Forms Of Harassment At Work: Eight Common Types

Harassment at work is usually more prevalent than we ever realize. It is primarily the situation that victims never remain assured of what involves harassment at the workplace and what measures to exercise when they are getting harassed. It is why many incidents go unheard and unreported, and it proceeds to be a pressing issue that can overthrow jobs and turn businesses into unproductive and toxic environments. So what is harassment at work precisely?

Well, any unwelcome behavior from an employer in authority, coworker, or any other person that creates a forbidding work atmosphere is harassment. Also, harassment at work usually happens in various ways, including gender bias, mental or physical abuse, and discrimination. 

Forms of Harassment at Work

There are various forms of harassment at work and so many versions that even the most careful HR managers can miss the clues. Therefore, an out-and-out understanding of workplace harassment will outfit you to deal with such situations or help a harassment victim overcome such challenging circumstances. Mentioned hereunder are the most prevalent forms of harassment at work. 

1. Discriminatory Harassment

Any illegal harassment at the workplace is discriminatory. But unlike other forms such as verbal or physical harassment, the description of discriminatory workplace harassment remains focused on intention rather than how it gets carried out. 

In addition, discriminatory harassment is when the harasser targets the victim because they belong to any protected societal status. Some of the recognizable forms of discriminatory harassment include:

  • Racial Harassment

Victims undergo racial harassment at work because of their culture, heritage, skin tone, nation of origin, or citizenship. Also, racial workplace harassment usually happens in different forms such as racial abuses, racial accusations, racial puns, hatred, offensive remarks, etc.

  • Gender Harassment

Gender harassment at work is discriminatory conduct against individuals based on their gender. A typical instance of gender workplace harassment is adverse gender customs about how men and women must act based on their gender. Some examples involve:

  1. Male nurses getting harassed at work for being in what is generally known as a woman’s work.
  2. A female manager is confined under the glass roof and gets ridiculed for being incompetent in being a leader. 
  3. A male coworker presents content ( video, posters, or comics) that is obscene and degrading to women.
  • Religious Harassment 

Religious harassment at the workplace usually remains connected to racial harassment but is more particular to a victim’s spiritual convictions. This religious harassment at work can take place in the form of:

  1. Prejudice towards religious celebrations, beliefs, customs, etc
  2. Insulting religious banter
  3. Obligation to change to another religion
  • Disability-Based Harassment

It is the form of harassment at work suffered by disabled people who undergo bullying such as denial to accommodate, taunting, condescending remarks, or isolation. Also, this harassment type gets directed towards people who:

  1. Suffer from a physical or mental disability
  2. Stay acquainted with a person who is disabled
  3. Employ disability assistance

2. Individual Harassment

It is a form of harassment at work that never remains centered on any protected status that the victim belongs to (such as faith, culture, and gender). Instead, fundamental bullying is not forbidden but can cause harm. It involves any conduct that constitutes an offensive or threatening work atmosphere for the victim. Some prevalent examples of personal harassment:

  • Inapt comments
  • Offensive jokes
  • Personal humiliation
  • Derogatory remarks
  • Intimidation tactics
  • Ostracising conducts

3. Physical Harassment

Physical harassment, also known as workplace violence, includes intimidations or physical attacks. Also, when this behavior crosses its limits, it turns into an assault. Physical signs such as pushing with a playful intention can usually blur the lines between acceptable and not acceptable behavior. 

Hence it is up to the individual on the receiving end to determine whether the action is appropriate or intimidating. Some of the examples of physical harassment are:

  • Open warnings of intention to harm.
  • Physical aggression such as pushing, punching, kicking, etc.
  • Bullying actions, such as moving fists angrily.
  • Demolishing the victim’s property to threaten.

4. Power Harassment

The defining characteristic of power harassment at work is the difference in authority between the harasser and the victim. The harasser who holds a more distinguished position in the office dominates the victim using their influence. 

In numerous instances, this occurs between administrators and subordinates. Also, power harassment can occur in various forms, such as acts of violence, personal harassment, or even psychological harassment. Some prominent instances of power harassment are as follows: 

  • Harasser places extreme commands on the victim that are unlikely to be fulfilled.
  • Harasser directs demeaning jobs far below the employee’s ability.
  • Harasser interferes in the employee’s private life.

5. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is the most prevalent form of harassment at work that includes undesired physical behavior, approaches, or demands for involvement in a sexual act. 

Although other kinds of workplace harassment need time to set in or progress in austerity, sexual harassment’s influence is immediate. Also, sexual workplace harassment is one of the forms of prohibited prejudice in the workplace, and examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Distributing specific pornographic content
  • Posting intimate signs
  • Fabricating sexual remarks or puns
  • Improper physical touching
  • Inapt sexual poses
  • The intrusion of a persons’ private space in a sexual way

6. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

In simpler terms, Quid pro quo implies “this for that” and indicates exchange-based sexual harassment at work. Under this type of sexual harassment, the victim gets attractive job offers to engage in a non-consensus sexual act. 

Also, in numerous instances, the immediate supervisor or manager is the perpetrator. In addition, being a senior-grade worker, the harasser would always have something to offer to the subordinate to get a sexual favor or even blackmail them. Moreover, in exchange for such sexual favors, a victim may receive the following:

  • Receive a job offer
  • Get a raise
  • Earn a trip
  • Receive growth opportunities
  • Evade demotion
  • Avoid job termination

7. Third-Party Harassment

Third-party harassment is another form of harassment at work where a harasser is an outsider person. In addition, unlike in situations where the harasser is a coworker, administrator, or supervisor, the third-party harasser is a company’s vendor, buyer, or client. 

Also, third-party harassment victims are usually workers in lower positions, such as cashiers, receptionists, or sales associates. Their lack of expertise and status in the business and their hesitation in reporting matters as they are afraid of losing their employment make them soft targets. 

As third-party harassment runs off the traditional narrative, it goes unrecognized and usually gets cleared under the carpet. However, notwithstanding how powerful the third party is, it remains the employer’s duty to take appropriate actions immediately.

8. Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassments are pretty common and happen between workers regularly. This form of harassment at work can be a consequence of character disagreements which end up in disputes that have intensified from the random eye roll to something severe. 

Also, unlike numerous prejudicial harassments, spoken harassment between people is not prohibited. It usually proves as someone who is often disagreeable and offensive. Because of this reason, verbal harassment at the workplace can often be damaging and demoralizing as individuals resist cooperating with the rude person. 

The Bottom Line 

After looking at the points above, we can say that recognizing and understanding different forms of harassment at work is the initial step to dealing with this toxic issue. Also, it is crucial later to follow up with the required actions to end it and warrant that such things never happen again. 

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