When an individual or group of employees feels intimidated or belittled by their coworkers, this is known as workplace harassment. A workplace harasser’s main goal is to make their victims feel unsafe and uneasy.
Workplace harassment encompasses a variety of forms of segregation as well as acts of infringement that are not limited to a single group. Harassment happens when people discriminate against women, racial and sexual minorities, individuals with disabilities, and immigrants. Workplace harassment, at its core, necessitates a diverse approach because it cannot be defined in a single, well-defined manner.
Types of Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment may or may not be accompanied by tangible evidence, but it cannot be denied. Offensive jokes, bullying, slurs, epithets, physical attacks, intimidation, ridicule, insults, offensive objects or photos, and interference with work performance are all examples of harassment.
Harassment at work can take many forms, including verbal or physical harassment, sexual favors, psychological, and emotional abuse, among others. Workplace harassment can be classified into five categories:
- Verbal Harassment
Victims of verbal harassment frequently confront a never-ending war of destruction that endangers their health and careers. Demeaning remarks, unpleasant gestures, and unjustified comments are all examples of verbal harassment.
Because this is a non-physical type of violence, it frequently involves insults such as fat-shaming/body-shaming jokes, cruel comments, and unwelcome taunting, making it difficult to distinguish. Because this is a gray area, HR managers and leaders must look for harassing behavior.
- Psychological Harassment
Psychological harassment is comparable to verbal harassment in that it is more subtle and involves methods such as withholding information. Victims of this type of harassment are more prone to have mental breakdowns, have low self-esteem, and be self-destructive.
Taking credit for others’ accomplishments, making impossible demands, setting impossible deadlines on an employee, forcing someone to perform outside their job area, and so on are examples of psychological harassment.
It is the newest kind of harassment. Digital harassment, often known as cyberbullying, is equally hurtful as physical bullying, even if it occurs online.
The use of social media in the workplace has become the standard. As a result, anyone can harass anyone online in the name of free expression. People can create fictitious personas to belittle or abuse their coworkers.
However, there is some good news about cyberbullying: victims may document it. Someone who is subjected to such abuse and prejudice might keep track of the instances using screenshots, preserved e-mails, and other means.
- Sexual Harassment
Workplace sexual harassment is a horrible crime that is more widespread than you might believe. It is a crime that does not simply affect women. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated or perpetrated by anyone, regardless of gender.
Because most of these occurrences go unobserved and unreported, criminals frequently get away with their actions. Many victims don’t want to talk about it because they believe it will get better, but it only worsens. However, if a sex offender is making someone uncomfortable, it is necessary to report them.
- Physical Harassment
The severity of workplace physical harassment varies. Harassment can take many forms, including inappropriate clothes or skin contact, physical attacks, threats, or property damage.
Gender minorities and LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to be subjected to workplace harassment. Some harassments can be downplayed as jokes by perpetrators who do not intend to cause bodily injury; in such circumstances, identifying physical harassment becomes difficult.
Signs of Employment Harassment
- Suspicious Interview Questions
Discrimination might even begin during the interview process. Discriminatory behavior at this stage may include inappropriate inquiries, comments, or assumptions based on a candidate’s sex, gender identity or expression, age, race, or other characteristics.
If you’re a woman looking for a job in a male-dominated field and the interviewer asks about your likability, you might wonder if the same question would be asked of a male candidate.
- Communication That is Demeaning
In biased work situations, you may notice an unpleasant tone or character in your interactions with coworkers and/or bosses. If you’re spoken to in a harsh or insulting tone, or if offensive jokes and comments are made around you, especially on protected class qualities like race, gender, religion, age, or sexual orientation, it’s possible that you’re being discriminated against.
- Disciplinary Action That Isn’t Fair
Unfair criticism or disciplinary action taken against you, especially from a supervisor, might be a symptom of prejudice. While it’s possible that the superior is acting out of unconscious bias, it’s also likely that they’re attempting to create a paper trail to support your dismissal.
- Pay Disparities
Many firms forbid employees from discussing their pay with coworkers, but federal law protects your right to do so. Talking about money with your coworkers will help you figure out whether there is any pay discrimination going on.
If a coworker in the same capacity as you gets paid more for the same work as you are, it could be a symptom of discrimination – especially if your coworker is different from you in terms of race, gender, age, and so on.
- Promotions That are Unfair
You can probably tell if this form of discrimination is occurring just by looking at the structure of your firm. Do only men hold managerial positions, while women remain in administrative ones?
You may also be subjected to more direct forms of discrimination, such as being passed over for someone less qualified despite demonstrating your ability and desire to take on a higher job.
- Age-related References
Is your boss basing his or her assessment of your technological skills on your age? Have you ever overheard coworkers making derogatory remarks or jokes about persons in a certain age group? These could be symptoms of job age discrimination.
How to Report Workplace Harassment?
Every business has a human resources department, which is responsible for assisting employees who are in distress. Good HR policies safeguard their safety and job security, whether they feel uncomfortable or in danger, or are intimidated by a coworker.
The lack of physical evidence in most grievances or harassing behaviors should not prevent a victim from submitting a formal complaint.
It is vital to report workplace harassment since other victims may have complained about comparable offenses committed by the same offender.
- Attempt a calm one-on-one dialogue with the harasser. Request that they refrain from making disparaging remarks about your personnel (victims). However, if the harassment is physical, do not approach the harasser; instead, take immediate action.
- If your employee complains about harassment, and you see that the harasser is in a leadership position, bring the matter to HR’s attention if you cannot address the situation with the harasser. If you have any evidence, such as screenshots, eyewitnesses, or text messages, consider presenting it.
- If you believe your employer did not properly handle your employees’ complaints, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which can conduct an impartial investigation. As they have their own rules and agencies governing workplace behavior, assist your staff in contacting them.
For large and midsize businesses, Impactly offers state-approved sexual harassment prevention training as well as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training. Many of the country’s major organizations have relied on our award-winning instructional writers and designers to develop training.