Can Harassment Be Verbal: 10 Elements At The Workplace

Communication is a common part of an interpersonal activity, and most civilizations have norms about what sorts of interaction is suitable in certain situations. Employees are made to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, frightened, and intimidated when subjected to verbal harassment. Most of the time, individuals find it difficult to distinguish between verbal harassment and other forms of harassment due to varying replies. Verbal harassment could perhaps include calling someone names, making them feel worthless, or generally reducing their self-worth.

Elements of Verbal Harassment

The following are the most typical types of verbal harassment:

  • Inappropriate jokes, statements, taunting, or sexuality-related queries are all examples of inappropriate behavior.
  • Sexually suggestive propositions, sexual favors, and asking people to go out with you.
  • Asking for information about a colleague’s sexual preferences or background at the workplace.
  • Spreading rumors and disseminating false information about someone.
  • Using obscene words and calling people names.
  • Negative remarks concerning a person’s appearance, body, or personal conduct.
  • Touching, clapping, or smacking lips are all examples of improper noises.
  • Sending inappropriate messages, emails, or texts to someone.
  • For example, disagreeing with someone using threatening, discriminating, or degrading words is a verbal attack.
  • Humiliating someone, especially in public, is a supervisor screaming and yelling at a subordinate over a terrible performance.

Harassment at work may have both emotional and economic ramifications. Victims may suffer mental health issues, including fear and depression, making it difficult to execute their work obligations, advance in their careers, and even stay employed.

Can You Report Verbal Harassment in the Workplace?

Offensive punchlines, derogatory language, vulgarities, name-calling, violent abuse or threats, threats of violence, mockery or belittlement, slurs or put-downs, aggressive objects or photos, and meddling with job performances are all examples of misconduct, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In legal terms, a manager who harshly criticizes everyone isn’t an assaulter. If a manager or colleague singles out minority, female, or migrant individuals, it is illegal.

This sort of harassment is considered a serious violation; however, unlike physical forms of harassment, gathering proof to prove the occurrence of verbal abuse is extremely difficult. If a verbal harassment lawsuit can be followed, recording the abuse or obtaining witnesses may be the only alternative. An employment lawyer may assist you in reporting the harassment to the relevant authorities and taking legal action to recover damages and get one career back on track.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 provides federal protection to employees. It’s also probable that the organization has rules and procedures to deal with various sorts of harassment in the workplace, which might be a great starting point. If an employee or ex-employee can claim that they were subjected to discrimination or harassment, they will have a better chance at recovering damages for verbal harassment. Reimbursement for psychological misery and suffering is one type of remedy.

Eliminating Verbal Harassment in the Workplace – Management Responsibilities 

Employers must work with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to develop preventative measures to reduce verbal, physical, and visual discrimination. Some examples of such measurements are:

  • Employers should implement Anti-harassment rules

They should make the policies available to all workers and guarantee that they read and comprehend them. Another preventative option is to provide sexual harassment training programs within the company. Various training programs assist in educating staff about sexual harassment incidents and how to avoid them. The staff members can receive their training via internet channels.

  • Encourage people to report verbal abuse.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regards verbal abuse as a significant issue, and victims who report it are protected. Reporting harassment to your workplace is merely the first phase, which may or may not result in action. It’s still an important step to take. Before the victim may initiate legal proceedings, the victim must report, and the business must fail to act.

  • Create effective reporting channels

Employers should establish several reporting channels and ensure that workers are aware of the processes to follow in harassment. According to the FBI, companies must set fairly specific supervisory requirements that indicate that no one has the permission to decide whether anybody else feels intimidated.

Eliminating Verbal Harassment in the Workplace – Individual Responsibilities 

  • Keep a log of the experiences

Take downtime and date, jot down particular statements and insults that offended you, and record yourself on the smartphone. Almost every company takes harassment seriously and makes every effort to avoid it. An employee manual is likely to have explicit advice on what to do in your unique situation. When you decide to report the abuse, all of the information will be used as evidence to back up your claim. Solutions can be achieved more rapidly if notes are kept on these incidents.

  • Changing attitudes in the workplace

According to a Gallup study conducted at the end of the 1990s, most Americans believed that employees were overly sensitive to sexual harassment. Harassment should be reported as a unit and as a team. Check for witnesses if you are subjected to verbal abuse, particularly in a sexual setting. When it comes to selecting whether or not to report difficulties at work, 46 percent of employees fear reprisal, according to a poll on employee satisfaction. Look for coworkers who have had similar experiences. There is safety in numbers, and how many more individuals then report to the HR department will be more trustworthy.

  • Try to work out a solution with the offender

Verbal abusers are frequently unaware that their actions may be deemed harassment. They’ll blame their demeanor on their personality. If you speak with the harasser or, better yet, make a formal report, they may understand how horrible it is and quit. If the verbal abuse includes sexual or other forms of discrimination or even physical assault, prioritize your wellbeing and don’t hesitate to contact the authorities if needed.

The HR role in Verbal Harassment Prevention

When employees’ initiatives that change the situation fail to resolve the issue, it is up to the organization’s culture to take immediate action. With an Exit interview, employers may use employee input to identify and eliminate the causes of bullying.

Questions concerning ethics, harassment, protection, and other reporting requirements that are essential to your company might be asked during these interviews. Collects and provides the information you need to understand why employees are leaving so you can solve issues before they wreak havoc on performance, satisfaction, and turnover.

Employee turnover is expensive, but you can take steps to maintain your best staff and make them feel at ease and safe in the workplace. The role of HR managers and recruiters is to analyze and inform prospective candidates of the work culture the organization follows and the consequences of failing to live up to company standards in terms of behavior and workplace conduct. 


Problems with harassment can be found in all sorts of businesses in the United States. It’s critical to understand workplace harassment, which ranges from bullying to discriminatory practices so that you can prevent toxic work situations in your small business. You may take the essential steps to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all of your workers by establishing a harassment and discrimination policy.

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