Harassment is a form of prolonged or short-term violence, aggressive intimidation, pressure, or bullying. It can happen everywhere and to everyone. In school, in your workplace, public transport, and even in your own home. Often people are unaware of the definition of certain forms of harassment and the laws to help them.
Harassment is based on a person’s characteristics that include,
- Age (age discrimination can be hard to perceive as harassment. This is basically a form of workplace harassment when an employee or a client is discriminated against based on their age. The demographic victims of this kind of harassment are usually people over 40).
- Sexual orientation
- Position of authority
- Genetic Information
- Pregnancy(also a form of workplace harassment)
- Offensive jokes
- Demeaning remarks
- Name-calling, offensive nicknames, or abuse
- Blackmailing with offensive or pornographic photos
- Physical assault
5 Types of Harassment
Some of the harassment types are listed below, along with their detailed definition and significance.
1. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment, unlike other harassment, does not need to be continuous or prolonged or repetitive. In other words, it does not need the burden of proof to be considered harassment. It is the most common form of harassment. Supposedly it happens in public venues like transport, school, workplace, or any other place where multiple people can gather. But in truth, the most violent and prolonged form of sexual harassment can take place even in your home.
In the workplace or public, there can be two types of sexual harassment
- Quid pro quo harassment
When a person in a position of power or authority asks for sexual favors from an employee in exchange for some benefits or prevention of a detriment, it is called quid pro quo harassment
- General sexual harassment
General sexual harassment means any unwanted, unwarranted, or unwanted act that makes the victim uncomfortable, and the perpetrator seems to derive sexual pleasure from the act. These actions include offensive jokes of sexual nature, physical aggression, unwarranted touching (such as rubbing, touching, or hugging), or sending any inappropriate texts or images.
Cyberbullying has become prevalent with the advent of the internet and, in turn, social media. Laws against Cyberbullying are pretty recent because of the recent development of social media. Social media can be a good place to protect your original identity from committing crimes.
Cyberbullying can be of sexual and non-sexual quality. Sending unsolicited pornographic pictures or unwarranted texts that can affect a person’s mental health can be considered cyberbullying. Before the specified laws against cyberbullying, it could be considered harassment if it was prolonged and intrusive.
Cyberbullying can also occur at workplaces, and it is extremely difficult to detect. Laws against cyberbullying or cyberstalking (such as the CFAA or Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) can help with the detection of the perpetrator.
3. Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is usually assumed between married or romantically involved partners, but it can happen to anyone. The perpetrators can be your spouse, housemate, or anyone in a cohabitation setting with you. In some countries, domestic abuse or harassment are even parts of tradition, like child marriage or corporal punishment.
There are strict laws against domestic abuse now. During COVID-19, the reports against domestic violence or abuse had gone up unprecedentedly in the lockdown period. But there has been no new invention of laws against domestic violence.
The victim of domestic abuse can be unwilling to file a report due to Stockholm syndrome, which makes it harder to detect.
Domestic violence can be physical and mental. There are no specific laws to prevent mental or psychological abuse. Understanding the traits of a healthy relationship can help you identify signs of domestic abuse.
4. Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment can be of the sexual and non-sexual genre committed and victimizes anyone in a professional setting. The harasser can be anyone, a supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer.
The motive of workplace violence can depend on different discriminatory aspects. These aspects can include a person’s gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, physical appearance, age, or the perpetrator’s personal grudge.
According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment at the workplace becomes unlawful when
- It becomes a prolonged or continued activity
- The action is severe enough to create a hostile environment.
The regular training and the perspectives of the company make a real difference in the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces. Knowing how to identify and stop sexual harassment can protect your employees’ mental distress and liability.
5. Elder or Dependent Adult Harassment
Elder abuse is similar to child abuse. Child abuse does not fall under the laws of harassment; it is a full-blown criminal offense. But elder abuse is also committed by caregivers like family members or a nurse at the facility that they are kept in. Elder or dependent adult abuse usually happens against or is defined in most state laws (such as California)
- People who are over 65.
- Any dependent adult from 18 to 64 with a mental or physical disability.
This type of abuse, like all other harassment, can be mental and physical. The most unsettling part about elder abuse is that it is often done unintentionally. Even neglect and forgetfulness about their needs can be considered elder abuse.
This does not necessarily become a criminal offense since the person committing it can be overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities or because of an elderly person isolating themselves as they don’t want to be a burden for anyone.
Laws Against Harassment
Harassment laws can be subjective. So the harassment is broadly divided into two categories before it can be put under any law or jurisdiction. If someone makes a statement based on protected categories like race, nationality, religion, creed, or sex, the offense becomes criminally culpable. However, if the perpetrator or the offense does not fall under a category that will be considered criminal, he could still be held liable for violating the civil code of conduct.
- Criminal Harassment
Criminal Harassment is considered to be a felony or misdemeanor against someone with grave severity of actions. To be considered a criminal, the harasser’s past history of crime is taken into account. The history can include similar behavior or previous assault charges.
- Civil Harassment
Lawsuits or procedures of law can still continue even if it is not perceived as a criminal offense. In that case, the lawsuit or the court procedure will be limited to a civil suit.
Discrimination against someone based on race, religion, color, or sex is a severe offense under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).
Laws against harassment across the world, including America, still need improvement. This article summarizes the aspects of different types of harassment and how they can be identified.