Harassment At Work Examples: Eight Common Types At The Workplace

Despite the notable transformations induced by the MeToo movement over the past few years, harassment at work is still a prevalent and evil issue. However, as the workplace landscape progresses to better represent the victim’s voice, HR professionals continue to play a crucial part in advancing improvement by uncovering techniques to enhance employee relationships practices, set criteria, and execute new and improved harassment prevention practices. 

Also, with the help of accurate information, HR managers and employee relationships experts can remain conducive in recognizing and eradicating all types of workplace harassment before the consequences intensify. 

In addition, whether the harassment is sexual, based on race, gender, experience level, or something else, immediate identification of inappropriate conduct is the most dependable way to defend employees and build a secure and peaceful work atmosphere for the entire workforce.

Understanding Harassment at Workplace

Workplace harassment usually happens when an employee feels threatened or intimidated by their coworkers, employer, or even the clients in the workplace. Also, some of the well-known names of harassment at work constitute workplace bullying, workplace aggression, or mobbing. In addition, harassment at work includes assorted types of discrimination and exhibits of violation that never remain confined to one particular group. 

Moreover, workplace harassment happens when individuals target various groups, including racial minorities, women, sexual minorities, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Essentially, harassment at work demands a pluralistic system since it cannot get defined in one conscious and substantial definition.

Common Examples of Harassment at Work 

Harassment at work does not have to remain sexual, and it can take place in any form. Also, while it can be challenging for employers to be present everywhere to identify workplace harassment, it is crucial to conduct regular harassment prevention training to make employees aware of the non-acceptable workplace conduct and how to handle workplace harassment. 

Listed hereunder are some common harassment at work examples. 

  • Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment at work is one of the most prevalent harassment types. Victims of verbal workplace harassment usually encounter a continuous battle of harm that endangers their well-being and work equally. Verbal harassment at work comprises demeaning accusations, obscene gestures, and unjust objections. 

In addition, since this is a non-physical kind of violence, it involves abuses like body shaming/fat-shaming, puns, ominous remarks, and undesired taunting, thus, often challenging to understand. Also, as it is a grey area, administrators and HR managers must remain watchful to distinguish such harassing conduct.

  • Racial Harassment

Racism remains prevalent everywhere, but recognizing racial harassment at work can be challenging. What an employee might term “an innocent joke” may be seen as purposefully threatening or demeaning to the joke’s recipient. 

Also, publicizing prejudicial representations online or offline, mimicking a person’s dialect, making undesirable remarks about a person’s culture, saying disparaging jokes, using racial accusations, and showing general prejudice toward any distinct race group are examples of racial workplace harassment. 

In addition, listening to the harassment victims and building a secure environment where employees can communicate and address any signs of possible racial prejudice can assist you in approaching and dealing with the issue upfront. Furthermore, it is crucial to keep employees answerable for what they post offensive content online whenever it crosses a line or makes another individual feel uncomfortable. 

  • Supervisor Harassment

Harassment at work from a manager, administrator, or leader may be terrifying. Administrators might misuse their authority by controlling staff to inequitable treatment, leaving them feeling confined and vulnerable. In addition, when the employee’s administrator engages in harassing conduct, federal tribunals have decided that a case for harassment in the workplace emerges considerably more swiftly.

  • Ageism 

According to a recent study, ageism or age discrimination is prevalent and increasing rapidly. Also, more than 1 in 3 employees believe their age has limited them from receiving a job after attaining 40 years. And what is worse is, age prejudice remains immensely underreported, with employees overlooking to register a case with the HR manager due to suspicion of retaliation. 

While numerous businesses have openly discussed the verbal, sexual, or physical forms of harassment in the workplace, some workers still do not obtain any age prejudice training. 

  • Sexual Harassment 

From undesirable and hateful remarks to unwanted physical approaches and demands for sexual favors, the most prevalent form of workplace harassment is sexual harassment. However, notwithstanding the clarity and empowerment of the MeToo movement, numerous employees remain reluctant to communicate sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Also, note that undesired touching, conveying offensive communications and videos, requesting sexual favors, remarks including obscene gestures are a few signs of workplace sexual harassment.

  • Physical Harassment

Physical harassment in the workplace comes on various levels. Such workplace harassments constitute inappropriate touching of skin, clothing, bodily assaults, warnings, or damaging private property.

In addition, individuals belonging to LGBTQIA+ communities and gender minorities are more likely to encounter such types of harassment at work. In addition, you must note that even if there is no severe bodily harm, it can still get identified as physical harassment. 

  • Disability Harassment 

Disability harassment is known as the improper treatment or harassment of workers with a bodily or cerebral disability. Also, as per the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person is deemed disabled with workplace implies a person with a mental or physical impairment that considerably restricts a significant life activity. In addition, these vital life activities are the fundamental elements of any individual’s life, including talking, walking, seeing, and learning. 

This type of harassment at work can also involve individuals with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer and diseases like MS and lupus. Also, disability harassment at work is one of the most prevalent forms of harassment. 

According to a study, approximately 32.2% of workplace discrimination cases got filed for disability harassment in the workplace. So how does this disability harassment look like in day-to-day life? Well, it can be obvious, such as employing slurs, making inapt puns, or prohibiting employees from specific work-related purposes, or it can be more detailed.

For instance, an administrator may pass up an employee in a wheelchair for work that needs driving long miles based on the inaccurate presumption that they cannot manage the task at hand. Hence in these situations, learning from HR managers can play a vital role in eradicating cases of prejudice and harassment, building a better work atmosphere for employees of all ability levels.  

  • Third-party harassment 

Third-party harassment happens when a person remains involved in undesired conduct related to a relatively protected nature that includes dishonoring the other person’s character; or creating an offensive, threatening, defaming, or unpleasant work atmosphere.

Nevertheless, employees still hold limited protection if they were harassed at their workplace by a third person, such as a customer or visitor. These third-party harassments at work provisions put the burden on an organization for recurred activities of third-party harassment against its workers. 

However, the lawful provisions limit clients or visitors from making slanderous, racial comments or making undesired sexual approaches to employees. 

Final Words

The examples of unlawful harassment at work do not end there. In particular circumstances, a mixture of undesired behavior (both emotional and physical) and harassers (administrators, workers, and various others) ends in a discriminatory workplace for employees. 

Hence to tackle such harassment issues in the workplace, it is crucial to conduct harassment prevention training that helps maintain a healthy workplace. 

Related Content


Impactly’s online sexual harassment and diversity, equity & inclusion training packages are used by hundreds of organizations across the country. Impactly is powered by Get Inclusive, one of the largest providers of prevention and compliance training for colleges and universities.