When workplace harassment is mentioned, what comes into mind first is sexual harassment. Even though sexual harassment still tops the list of workplace incidents of harassment, it’s not the only one; harassment at work comes in many other forms. Sometimes, employees may be ridiculed, cyberbullied, threatened with violence on the job, denied promotions, or belittled. This bad treatment from others elicits the same effects and makes a workplace a hostile place to work in.
However, everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work and be given the right to work at the same level as everyone else in an organization. But, even today, workplace harassment continues to plague many employees. To understand the different types of harassment at work and how to protect yourself, continue reading on.
What Is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is a situation where an employee or a group of employees feel bullied by their bosses or colleagues. The harasser’s aim is usually to make their victims uncomfortable. Simply put, there’s harassment when a person’s behavior towards another at the workplace is considered offensive, pervasive, or too severe to the extent that it affects the conditions of the victim’s employment.
Five Types Of Workplace Harassment
Here are five types of workplace harassment that you should be on the lookout for:
- Sexual Harassment
These are all actions that constitute sexual abuse or assault. Unfortunately, perpetrators get away with it because most victims don’t report most of these incidents. Victims tend to think that the situation will get better, but it only worsens in most cases. This is why when you notice harassment, you should report and consult a harassment attorney right away.
The common types of sexual harassment include:
- Rape and sexual coercion
- Sending indecent pictures or dressing
- Verbal sexual comments and requests
- Workplace sex
Workplace sex may not be considered unlawful, but it’s usually against most company policies. Besides, it can bring many complications, especially if some employees get other work benefits for sexual favors. Notably, any gender can face sexual harassment, although statistics show sexual harassment of women is higher
- Verbal Harassment
Verbal harassment can arise from seemingly innocent personality conflicts, and then escalate to serious situations. You may be working with someone who’s constantly on your case with demeaning and unpleasant comments or slurs. The harassment can come from supervisors or co-workers when they’re persistently rude, making obnoxious comments, or being utterly disrespectful.
Unfortunately, unlike other types of workplace harassment, verbal harassment isn’t illegal but only an escalation of conflict in personalities. That’s unless the victim falls under the protected class. Most verbal harassment can go on for months or years, making it particularly stressful for the victim.
- Physical Harassment
There are many extremes when it comes to physical harassment at the workplace. It can range from improper touching, threats, physical assault, or causing damage to personal property. It mostly happens to people in the minority groups, such as the LGBTQIA+ community.
Sometimes, offenders try to downplay their actions and label them as jokes, especially if they don’t lead to any physical harm to the victims. In such cases, it can become difficult to report as the authority may not have a way of identifying a case of physical harassment. However, since it’s still harassment, it needs to be reported to the management before it can get out of hand.
- Psychological Harassment
This is the kind of harassment that impacts a victim psychologically, which may affect other areas of their lives, such as work, physical well-being, or social life. This can be caused by things such as isolating an employee, refusing to acknowledge their presence, or refusing to give them credit for their work. It could also be through spreading false information about a victim or opposing their every idea on purpose even when they’re making a valid point
- Discriminatory Harassment
When the victim of harassment is in the protected class, this type of harassment is considered discrimination harassment. It’s illegal and punishable by law.
The common types of discriminatory harassment include discrimination based on:
- Sexual orientation
Protecting Yourself From Workplace Harassment
Since workplace harassment can happen to any employee and in any form, it’s advisable to know ways to protect yourself. Here are a few insights on what to do.
- Know your rights: You need to find a copy of the company guidelines on harassment and read through it. Familiarize yourself with the categorized unacceptable behavior and the procedure to report it.
- Report: Don’t let any issue go on for too long as it may become worse. Your employer is legally bound to protect you from harassment and provide you with a comfortable work environment.
- Document everything you can: Keeping evidence of the occurrences is among the best ways to protect yourself because you’ll have proof against the offender.
- Know your legal options: If for any reason your employer is unable to protect you, you can sue them for compensation.
Final Words: Protect Your Rights
The employer’s culture plays a huge role in determining whether employees are safe from harassment or not. When the company policy is clear on harassment and the consequences, it makes it easier for employees at all levels to follow and keep up a safe working environment. A safe workplace sees motivated and productive employees and a low employee turnover.