Most common types of harassment: 8 Types

Workplace harassment is when the employees or group of employees feel threatened or downgraded by their coworkers. It ruins the job experience for the employees. It may be committed by any supervisor, client, customer, colleague, or vendor. Most of the time, such harassment goes unnoticed as the victims are unsure if what they have experienced accounts for workplace harassment and what they are supposed to do. 

Every company must ensure a safe working environment. Toxicity in the workplace must be prevented. If not, it will lead to embarrassing lawsuits, which negatively affect the company’s image in public. If any such cases are reported, the management must be unbiased when they handle such cases. 

Common Types of Harassment

To identify and eradicate discrimination that negatively affects the business, the management must know the most common types of harassment. These are:

1. Physical Harassment 

It is a type of harassment at the workplace that consists of physical attacks, threats, or assaults. It appears as a form of workplace violence. An employee may be abused physically by being pushed, slapped, punched, or other physical abuse by another employee. Examples of physical harassment are hitting, kicking, destroying property to intimidate someone, threatening behavior, etc. 

Mostly, the people working in healthcare, law enforcement, social services, education, etc., are exposed to such harassment. There might not be any physical harm involved, but it still should be considered as physical harassment. If the situation worsens, the employers must take appropriate and strict action against the offenders, which must be based on the facts of the case and must not attempt to damage the case if it involves a complaint against someone of high authority. 

2. Personal Harassment 

It can also be termed bullying. It is not illegal and not discriminatory. An employee may pass dirty comments and inappropriate remarks about their coworker. It includes offensive jokes, criticism, intimidation, etc. If an employee is being put down constantly by condescending statements by the employer, it can be accounted for as personal harassment. Such a toxic environment can interfere with the work performance of the victim. 

3. Discriminatory Harassment

This is a type of harassment that is directed towards someone’s race, gender, sexual identity, disability, etc. Some examples of discriminatory harassment are stated as follows: 

(i) Racial harassment: It is the harassment of someone based on their race, skin color, or citizenship status. It includes insults, degrading comments, racist jokes, and other behaviors.

(ii) Gender harassment: When coworkers, supervisors, or any member in the organization discriminate against anyone at work based on their gender. Victims of such harassment can be men or women. It is often due to negative stereotypes of how each gender should behave.

(iii) Religious harassment: It is the harassment of someone based on their religious beliefs. It

Includes intolerance towards religious holidays, traditions, customs, mean religious jokes, pressuring to convert religions, etc. 

(iv) disability-based harassment: It is a type of harassment directed towards an individual who suffers any disability, is acquainted with a disabled person, or uses disability services. It includes isolating the disabled person, refusal to provide necessary and reasonable accommodations, etc. EEOC has shown through a study that 32.2% of cases filed in 2018 for workplace discrimination accounts for disability-based harassment. 

(v) Sexual orientation-based harassment: It is the harassment of someone whose sexual orientation is different from others. This type of harassment is gaining recognition and accounts for a legitimate kind of harassment. People of any sexual orientation, like gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc., can victim such harassment. For example, a heterosexual man might be teased for being a hairdresser and a homosexual man working in a salon. 

(v) Age-based harassment: It is being teased or insulted, unfairly criticized, and being left out of meetings due to one’s age. Employees aged 40 and above are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for preventing age-based harassment. 

4. Psychological Harassment

It is being constantly put down and always having their ideas trivialized by the supervisors. It harms the employees. This can affect the financial performance of the victim. Those who face such harassment are more likely to have mental breakdowns, low self-esteem, and feel unhappy about themselves. It also includes taking credit for someone else’s work, making impossible demands and deadlines, etc.  

5. Verbal Abuse 

It can be the result of personal conflicts that have worsened. It is not often illegal, but this makes the victim uncomfortable and damaging if it is gone unnoticed or unresolved. It includes yelling, cursing, insulting, offensive gestures, fat/body shaming jokes, etc., in public or private. If such harassment is based on one’s protected class, it is pretty illegal.

6. Sexual Harassment 

The harassment in the workplace is sexual and consists of unwanted sexual advances, conduct, behavior, etc. It is the most common type of workplace harassment. It is illegal and must be taken seriously. Examples of sexual harassment are sharing sexual photos or posters, inappropriate sexual touching or gestures, passing sexual comments, invading someone’s personal space sexually, etc. A study by EEOC has shown that 25%-85% of women have faced sexual harassment at work. 54% of LGBT BME women have experienced unwanted touching, and 45% of them have reported sexual assault, and 27% have reported severe sexual assault or rape by a survey by the Trades Union Congress. 

7. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment 

It is a type of exchange-based sexual agreement. It refers to when the employer makes the employee take part in sexual conduct in exchange for providing any job benefits to the employee. Most of the time, the harasser is someone in the top-level management, like a manager or supervisor. The victim is subject to such offers for getting a promotion, raise, opportunities, avoiding demotion or dismissal, etc., in exchange for providing sexual favors to the harasser. 

8. Cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying may take many different forms and strategies, such as messages intended to intimidate, intimidate, deceive, denigrate, falsely criticize, or degrade the receiver. The activities are intentional, regularly repeated, and indicate hostile behavior with the intent to injure another person. It is aggressive behavior that occurs through a digital medium. It involves sharing humiliating things about the victims across emails and other online platforms, spreading lies and gossip about the victim, sending harassing messages directly to the victim, etc. 

Such statements can spread like wildfire and can be out of control. It torments the victim, and in some cases, it has led to suicide. The victims can document the evidence of cyberbullying and report it to the management. The management thus investigates the case and takes strict action against the harasser or harassers. 

Conclusion

Any harassment, be it based on gender, age, sexual orientation, etc., must be handled with the utmost care by the management, and strict action must be taken against the person responsible. The employers must inform the employees that harassment is not only prohibited but also punishable in the organization. Special training must be provided to all managers, supervisors, and employees. 

There must be multiple reporting channels for the filing of complaints in the organization. The workplace must be monitored using workforce and technology. The organizational members must be protected by the services of the right Human Resource services. The organization must try to bring ethics and culture under the HR responsibilities in the organization, and HR services must be delegated to a reliable and skilled agency.

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