Keen to discover the unknown realities of workplace harassment? Find effective ways to tackle it legally. Read on!
What is workplace harassment? OR What is harassment in the workplace? Workplace harassment is an unruly behaviour threatening the dignity of an individual. It may be in the form of preventing the career growth of a person, excessive micro-management and criticising what a person does.
But then harassment in workplace must be vehemently prevented for the security of the employees. Irrational behaviour towards employees with regards to race, religion, gender, physical and emotional aspects are the major contributors to work harassment.
In this article, we will discuss workplace harassment definition, types of workplace harassment and examples of harassment in the workplace.
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What is harassment in the workplace?
How to define workplace harassment? Harassment in the workplace or work harassment definition can be termed in different ways. Workplace bullying, workplace abuse, workplace awkward criticism are the multiple types of definition of harassment at workplace.
Eventually, workplace harassment leads to mental trauma, affinity towards alcohol, and other psychological effects. Physical harassment in the workplace, sexual harassment on the job, labor harassment, management harassment, supervisor harassment etc. are the many examples of job harassment.
Companies must provide due attention to prevent any forms of workplace harassment. Federal workplace harassment laws, employee abuse laws are now in effect to protect employees from harassment at work by manager or coworker.
Why harassment at work must be stopped?
It is critical to stop harassment at work. Let us try to understand why harassment in the workplace needs to be prevented and is harassment a form of discrimination.
1. Mental disorders
Workplace harassment leads to mental disturbances like anxieties and, tensions. Surveys on harassment at the workplace have proved that the majority of employees are mentally stressed, and depressed. While others suffer from nightmares, and humiliation due to sexual harassment in the work place.
2. Addiction to alcohol
Employees often resort to alcohol to cope up with harassment workplace or to forget the office harassment. Women are more prone to alcohol than men to deviate from office sexual harassment and any other form of harassment in the workplace. It is often termed as economic harassment definition.
3. PTSD or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is a very common form of stress experienced by employees introduced to physical or verbal harassment in the workplace. They become extremely sensitive and vulnerable; a perfect example of harassment definition at work
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What constitutes harassment?
Our next focus is on what constitutes harassment? What constitutes workplace harassment? Or what is considered workplace harassment? Workplace harassment is an illegal and unlawful means to humiliate employees by resorting to undue threatening, bullying, and constant criticizing.
What counts as harassment majorly is that it may assume the form of physical abuse, mental distress, violent acts, scaring someone without any valid reason and even stalking an employee on social media.
Manager harassment or sexual harassment workplace can be verbal or through emails. To understand what is considered harassment in the workplace, you need to follow the behaviour of the abuser. It is intentional and performed continually.
What is harassment and what is not?
It is very important to understand what is harassment and what is not. The reason being you may need to resort to legal or police support to protect yourself from harassment at work by boss or being harassed at work by another employee. Signs of workplace harassment involve constant humiliation by a person verbally or physically.
It is repetitive and conducted purposefully with adverse intentions. You also need to be aware of what falls under the definition of harassment at work. Mutual consent on a hug or a remark on someone’s physical appearance that does not necessarily threaten a person’s dignity publicly – is not what constitutes harassment or what is harassment at work.
EEOC definition of harassment
As per the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC definition of harassment – is a form of employment discrimination that is against the rules and norms defined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Workplace harassment is a conduct that is unlawful discriminating on religion, race, gender, age, disability, or national origin.
The EEOC guidelines harassment states that any offensive conduct that is pursued continuously and is severe enough to create a hostile, and abusive environment is punishable under law. The EEOC workplace harassment committee members define harassment in the workplace as unwelcome and illegal.
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11 types of harassment
We now understand what is the definition of harassment in the workplace or what is work harassment and the effects of workplace harassment. Next is to be aware of the different types of harassment and types of workplace bullying.
It can be verbal harassment at work, sexual harassment in workplace, coworker harassment, economic harassment, indirect harassment or a manager harassing employee. In the subsequent sections, you will receive an answer to the question: what are the different types of harassment?
Workplace sexual harassment via emails and personal messages
Workplace sexual harassment is one of the most prevalent forms of harassment at work. With the advancement of digital technology, sending out emails and messages in social media platform have been convenient.
Workplace harassment has piped up wherein the abusers repetitively send out uncomfortable messages and emails to harm the dignity of individuals. This form of sexual harassment at the workplace creates continual discomfort at work.
Gender bias stimulating employees harassment
Another prevalent form of employees harassment is gender discrimination suffered by men and women employees. Stereotyping a particular job for gender is considered as workplace harassment subjecting employees to struggle in their career or pursue their ambitions.
It is one of the types of harassment in the workplace that has been continuing for generations and predominantly in industrial sectors like banking, healthcare, military services.
Personal humiliation leading to job harassment
Job harassment involving personal humiliation is a form of non sexual harassment and not related to any race, gender or religion. It can be inappropriate comments, micromanagement of activities, publicly ridicule a person or any other form of workplace intimidation behaviour.
This particular kind of workplace harassment subjects the victim to an offensive and uncomfortable work environment. It is a type of harassment that cannot be ring-fenced under anti harassment laws, yet companies are recommended to prevent the occurrence of such work harassment cases.
Discriminating race as an employee harassment
Employee harassment based on race, colour, skin, country of origin etc. is experienced by companies in various regions of the world. Companies that hire people from different backgrounds must strictly monitor racial workplace harassment proactively.
Any indications or signs of harassment at work related to racial discrimination must be punished under the jurisdiction of the company’s HR and ethnic policies. This particular type of harassment by coworkers or supervisors lead to the down-gradation of employee morale and subsequently hamper the company’s productivity.
Religious harassment at workplace
Religious harassment at workplace is an intolerable way of harming the beliefs, customs and traditions of employees. An employee may be cornered by coworkers by demeaning his or her religious sentiments and suffer workplace harassment.
Sometimes crude jokes are used as a weapon to target employees. Such a kind of harassment in the work place is illegal and punishable under the law. Companies hiring professionals from different religions must be rational when it comes to defining religious official holidays.
Verbal sexual harassment at workplace
There are different types of sexual harassment in the workplace. One of them being verbal sexual harassment at workplace. It openly affects the dignity and respect of an individual. Such kind of workplace harassment demean a person’s value and leads to severe mental trauma.
Companies must invest in a harassment investigation unit to hear out individuals experiencing sexual harassment work behaviour. Sex harassment at work is a heinous crime even in verbal mode, since such allowance may lead to physical harassment and much more grievous situation.
Disability based work place harassment
Work place harassment concerning the disability of an individual has two variants. One of the two types of harassment is mocking people who are physically challenged. And the second one is illegally utilizing disability services provided by a company by applying for sick leave or similar kind of leaves with inappropriate medical certificates.
The first one is more serious since a person may be subject to workplace harassment and experience unprofessional and improper comments from co-workers.
Boss harassment as a power monger
Boss harassment or power harassment is another prevalent and common workplace harassment. It is a huge concern when companies HR department or leadership discuss the various forms of workplace harassment and their prevention techniques.
Announcements and awareness sessions are the best ways to help protect the employee rights in the workplace harassment and to acquaint the employees on what is considered harassment on the job by bosses or managers.
Coworker harassment leading to assault
Coworker harassment often turns out to be as severe as an assault involving physical attacks or threats. To understand what qualifies as workplace harassment under the category of assault, you need to judge the behaviour of the person towards the victim.
Sometimes friendly gestures may seem to be a form of workplace harassment. An Assault or physical harassment definition is usually termed as the conduct that leads to a major uncomfortable situation violating the mental peace and physical stability of an individual.
Employment harassment involving offensive pictures
Employment harassment by sending out or clicking offensive pictures is illegal and punishable under law. It is one of the types of harassment at work that disbalances the mental stability of a person.
Victims face embarrassment and feel insecure to work comfortably in the office. Companies must prevent such kinds of workplace harassment to protect the dignity of the employees, allowing them a safe and secure place to work in.
Harassment on the job by offensive jokes
Similar to offensive pictures, offensive jokes also bring in harassment on the job. If you are wondering what qualifies as harassment, this is a classic example as an answer to the question.
Jokes imparted in a friendly manner is acceptable but when shared intentionally to harm a person’s beliefs, or feelings are considered offensive and a type of workplace harassment. Demeaning or belittling a person’s value is unacceptable and comes under the purview of the definition of workplace harassment.
Workplace harassment laws
Workplace harassment laws have been especially been created to punish and prevent workplace harassment. There are workplace abuse laws, boss harassment laws, employer harassment laws and many more. What three factors are commonly used under federal law to determine unlawful workplace harassment?
Its race (including colour, national origin, religion), sex and genetic background. Federal law defines harassment as unwelcome behavioural conduct against these three factors.
Boss workplace harassment law
Boss workplace harassment law is defined to prevent any kinds of abusive and unlawful behaviour by supervisors or managers. In case you experience such workplace harassment, you must adopt the following ways
- Address your supervisor directly to stop such behaviour
- Report to the head of the unit or department and complain about your boss
- Report to the HR department
- Raise a grievance to the company’s Ethics counsellor
- Raise a security and ethics violation issue in the company’s grievance address cell
Employee harassment laws for abusive behaviour
The EEOC has defined employee harassment laws for abusive behaviour against employees. When you face workplace harassment related to offensive attitude, here is what you need to do,
- Raise a legal action against the abuser or co worker harassment at work
- Report to the police by lodging a complaint
- Speak to your immediate supervisor
- Send emails or verbally communicate to the company’s HR department
- Raise a complaint with the company’s Ethics Counsellor
Workplace threats law or labor law
As per employee harassment rights, there are workplace threats law or labor law harassment, if you need to specifically complain about workplace harassment.
- Communicate to the abuser for refraining from threatening behaviour
- Inform the higher leadership in the unit or department
- Raise a complaint with a designated officer addressing the company’s harassment issues
- Consult a legal attorney for guidance
- Lodge a complaint with the police
Sexual work harassment laws
Sexual workplace harassment is one the most common types of harassment in workplace. But the EEOC condemns it and has its own set of sexual work harassment laws defined to help victims.
- Immediately contact the HR department for reporting on sexual harassment
- Lodge a complaint with the police
- Consult a legal attorney for help and guidance
- Refrain from further interaction with the abuser
- Intimate the management of the company
Job harassment laws for co-worker harassment
Is there a question popping up your mind on, what to do if a coworker harassing me outside of work? Well, there are job harassment laws or co worker harassment laws for that too.
- Consult and report to your supervisor
- Report to the Ethics Counsellor of the company
- Report to the HR department of your company
- Consult a legal attorney for adopting legal actions
- Lodge a police complaint
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Workplace harassment examples
In this section, we will discuss workplace harassment examples. This will help you to understand what are the ways adopted by an abuser for workplace harassment.
You will be acquainted with sexual harassment examples at work, verbal work harassment examples, examples of workplace harassment by supervisors, physical harassment at work examples, and discrimination harassment in the workplace examples.
Physical assault as examples of harassment
One of the rising concerns or examples of harassment is a physical assault on the victims by the abuser. The examples of physical workplace harassment include,
- Threatening to attack physically by verbal communication, or emails is an example of physical harassment at work by coworker or supervisor.
- Direct physical attacks by hitting or using any object to inflict injury
- Demonstrating threatening behaviour like approaching aggressively, showing fists etc.
- Destroying any asset or property of the victim
- Using abusive languages for a direct physical confrontation
Discrimination at work harassment examples
Work harassment examples related to discrimination are elaborated below,
- Racial discrimination is a common example of workplace harassment
- Hurting the religious beliefs of an individual is another classic example of harassment
- Employees often report being harassed at work by manager or a coworker on skin colour
- Gender-based discrimination on a man employed in nursing jobs or women being hired for military services
- Disability based harassment like walking defects, hearing impairment, physical appearance etc.
Example of sexual harassment
The example of sexual harassment will help you to understand what is sexual harassment in the workplace or what is considered sexual harassment at work.
- Sexual workplace harassment faced by a heterosexual person working in a salon
- Forcing physical intimacy against a person’s will is what is considered sexual harassment in the workplace
- Attempting to provide benefits in exchange for sexual behaviour is another common sexual harassment workplace example
- Queries or inappropriate remarks on a person’s personal life
- Stalking a person through social media platforms
Examples of verbal harassment in the workplace
Some of the common examples of verbal harassment in the workplace are elaborated below,
- Threatening a person at work is considered a verbal workplace harassment
- Imparting offensive jokes is another verbal harassment workplace example
- Insulting a person publicly
- If you are wondering is yelling in the workplace harassment punishable? Yes it is and is an example of job abuse
- Remarks to demean or disrespect an individual
Supervisor harassment examples
Here are some of the supervisor harassment examples that often lead to employee dissatisfaction and mental distress,
- Among the different types of harassment in the workplace, harassing an employee to work overtime forcefully is a very common example
- Not willing to allow leaves as per employee entitlement
- Micro-managing a person’s work
- Constantly criticizing an individual’s work
- Among the work harassment types, shying away a person on assigning respectable roles is another example of what is harassment on the job.
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How to handle workplace harassment?
Is workplace harassment illegal? What is harassment at work? What is the legal term for harassment? For that, you need to know the key steps to handle workplace harassment.
A ready reckoner on what should be your elements of harassment claim, harassment at work definition, how to handle employer harassment, what to do if a “co worker harassing me” and details on employment law harassment.
- Understand the definitions of harassment in the workplace and how to define harassment in the workplace. More importantly the legal definition of workplace harassment.
- Figure out what constitutes harassment in the work place and when is it considered harassment
- Learn how to prove harassment at work and what’s considered harassment at work
- Go through the harassment law definition and be acquainted with the labor laws harassment management
- Awareness on the ways of suing for harassment in the workplace