Verbal harassment at the workplace refers to demeaning comments or oral arguments that make any employee in an organization feel embarrassed or disrespected. It can happen both in formal and informal workplace settings. Also, despite the government’s efforts to reduce harassment in the workplace, verbal and non-verbal harassment instances are increasing.
Verbal Workplace Harassment – An overview
Verbal harassment at work has grown to be a grave issue in organizations. This demands immediate attention as it invariably impedes the victim’s mental well-being and reduces their productivity. Harassment can come from a variety of sources, including colleagues and employers. Microaggression is yet another prevalent name for verbal abuse.
It is a type of verbal harassment where a person receives constant hate comments on age, sex, religion, or any other topic that can affect a person mentally. To avoid this and provide every employee a safe work environment, the Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate at the place of employment based on individual attributes. Moreover, employers remain prohibited from discriminating against or alienating employees based on their race, nationality, ethnic origin, or religion.
The reason people in a workplace must steer clear of such topics is they frequently become sources of verbal harassment or mocking and may also lead to sexual wrongdoing. This type of harassment is illegal in all situations, and a worker can use judicial and legislative actions to combat it.
However, you must understand that emotions run high under the pressure of work and deadlines, and you can hear co-workers yelling at one another from time to time. Although the situation is inconvenient, it is natural. Conflicts, or even heated arguments, might occur frequently, and this would sometimes not constitute verbal abuse or harassment at the workplace.
Things that do constitute verbal harassment could be derogatory statements, obnoxious gestures, and unjustified criticism. It can be a never-ending struggle that imperils your health and job.
In addition, insults, slurs, undesired sexually offensive “jokes,” and disturbing ungracious statements are all examples of verbal abuse. Moreover, since it is a different kind of abuse that can never get documented, verbal workplace harassment can be challenging to detect and is frequently a gray area.
Furthermore, this verbal harassment at the workplace can often result in problems, such as depression, increased blood pressure, and stress.
Tips for Reporting Verbal Harassment at your Workplace
Human resource (HR) departments are present at every workplace to assist employees, especially in precarious or offensive conditions. Note that the absence of significant proof should not be the basis for your failure to file a case. The majority of verbal abuse and hate comments remain unsupported by testimony.
Because several victims may describe related misdemeanors and report to the organization, but they may wait for more proof before exercising any final action. While numerous organizations have procedures set to examine workplace verbal harassment, some might not.
Mentioned hereunder are some steps you can take as a verbal harassment victim before stepping into any legal action.
- To rectify the dispute peacefully, request the abuser, preferably in person, that they put an end to the harassment. However, do not attempt to talk to the harasser if you think they can harm you physically.
- If your immediate superintendent is not the verbal abuse perpetrator, contemplate discussing the problem with them. Bring it to HR’s consideration if your efforts to solve the conflict with the harasser go in vain. If feasible, try to record the communications or verbal attacks as firsthand accounts for proof.
- Notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you doubt your supervisors, HR, or organization administrators oversaw your case adequately. The EEOC can initiate independent questioning. Also, you can present a petition with a local government that has laws for workplace behavior regulation.
In addition, note that when dealing with the issues of verbal workplace harassment or abuse, there are some things you need to avoid. First and foremost, never retaliate, as this will solely make the condition worse. Moreover, refrain from complaining or discussing this issue with your colleagues.
This is because there are odds that your colleagues might weaken versions of the story if they are eyewitnesses. After all, they have limited control to change anything. However, you should never stay silent. Staying silent or not reporting the abuse will never help, nor will it stop the offender’s actions.
Also, if you are not satisfied with the proceedings that take place within the organization, you can seek legal action. During a legal trial, every allegation would get thoroughly investigated, and you will get adequate compensation for your sufferings.
When can a Person File a Lawsuit for Verbal Harassment at the Workplace?
If you have been the victim of verbal harassment at your workplace and did not get any help from the employer or the HR department, you have the right to press legal charges against the accused and the employer. Also, matters related to workplace harassment usually come under the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) harassment rules.
However, to seek relief under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s harassment rules, you need to initially prove that the behavior breached the anti-harassment laws set by the EEOC.
It implies that the harassment you experienced has affected your job or mental health, and it has breached one of the federally recognized state laws and classifications. For instance, verbal abuse or harassment included racial comments or people discriminating against you based on your religion, making the workplace unfriendly.
If this is the case, you may be able to bring a lawsuit to recover compensation for your mental and financial losses. In addition, verbal harassment at work can have both emotional and economic repercussions. Victims may acquire symptoms of depression like anxiety, irritability, or loss of interest, which can affect the ability to execute job obligations, advance in careers, or even loss of employment.
Hence, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides full rights for the abuse victims to report the harassment if the employer overlooks the issue or fails to address the problem.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, we can say that verbal harassment at the workplace is equally tolling as physical or psychological abuse and should not be taken lightly. This is why supervisors and managers at every workplace must ensure that no instances of abuse occur, and the employees get regular harassment prevention training to create a safe working environment.