Workplace harassment is a serious issue that can harm an organization. There are three main types of workplace harassment: verbal, visual, and physical. It is important to identify these types of harassment and know how to deal with them. In this blog post, we will discuss each type of harassment and provide tips on how to prevent it and handle it if it does occur.
What Is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is any unwelcome behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive behavior becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the harassment is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”
This type of harassment can cause a person to feel isolated, contribute to decreased job satisfaction, and even lead to psychological distress.
What Are The 3 Types Of Harassment?
1. Verbal Harassment
This type of harassment is when someone uses derogatory, offensive, or threatening language to intimidate, control, or belittle another person. Examples include
– name-calling, teasing, insults, or spreading rumors.
– intimidating or hostile emails, messages, or comments.
– making offensive jokes or comments about a person’s protected status.
– harassment based on gender, age, race, sexual orientation, etc.
– degrading comments about a person’s physical or mental abilities.
2. Visual Harassment
This type of harassment involves the display of offensive images or symbols in the workplace that can be seen by everyone, including co-workers, customers, and clients. Anything employees can see that may be linked to a protected category may be considered harassment Examples include:
– posters, cartoons, or comments written on whiteboards.
– drawings or graffiti depicting stereotypes regarding gender, race, religion, or disability.
– displaying offensive content on screensavers or computer monitors.
– inappropriate or offensive clothing.
– displaying offensive content on social media.
– displaying explicit photos or videos in the workplace.
– placing objects that are offensive in nature on desks or walls.
– using harassment-related symbols or slogans in the workplace.
– displaying harassment-related materials in the workplace.
3. Physical Harassment
This type of harassment involves unwanted touching or physical contact that is offensive and uninvited. This form of harassment can include:
– pushing, shoving, slapping, or kicking.
– sexual advances or touching.
– grabbing someone’s clothing.
– blocking someone’s way.
– threatening gestures or making physical contact in a threatening manner.
– sexually assaulting a co-worker.
– intentionally damaging property belonging to another person.
– threatening to hurt someone in the workplace physically.
– making threats of violence or physical harm in the workplace.
Other Types Of Harassment
There are other types of harassment. These types can either be displayed physically, visually, or verbally.
This type of harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical harassment. It can be in the form of comments about a person’s body, jokes, gestures, or images that are offensive to someone. It starts simple or harmless, with the culprit likely unaware of the harassment they are committing. From staring at someone for long to making unwanted advances and even touching someone without permission, all fall under workplace sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can also include harassment based on a person’s gender identity or expression. Sexual harassment at work can create a hostile work environment and put employees at risk of psychological distress. People engage in sexual harassment in the workplace due to power dynamics, and often harassment is not reported or addressed correctly, leaving the victim feeling vulnerable and unprotected.
Discriminatory harassment is harassment that targets a particular group or individual based on race, physical attributes, age, religious beliefs, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The harassment can be verbal (such as name-calling) or physical (such as pushing). It may also involve posting derogatory comments about members of a targeted group in the workplace or making offensive comments about a person’s race, gender, religion, etc. Discriminatory harassment can create a hostile work environment and have serious psychological implications for the victim.
- Racial Harassment: This type of harassment involves verbal or physical conduct directed at an individual because of their race, color, national origin, or ethnicity. This harassment can take various forms, including name-calling, offensive jokes, derogatory comments, slurs, or even physical harassment. Racial harassment is born from prejudice and can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
- Gender Harassment: This harassment involves any form of harassment that is related to gender, including sexual harassment. The harassment can take many forms, such as jokes about a person’s gender identity or expression, insults, offensive gestures, comments, and unwelcome sexual advances.Victims here can either be men or women, but women in the workplace more commonly face harassment of this kind because of their lower power and status relative to men. Gender harassment can create a hostile work environment, making it difficult for victims to do their jobs effectively.
- Religious Harassment: This type of harassment involves harassment directed at individuals because of their religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations. Examples include verbal harassment, insults, and derogatory comments about a person’s religion or beliefs. It can also involve posting offensive comments about religious groups. People may also be targeted for harassment because they do not belong to any particular religion. A believer of a different religion preaching their beliefs in the workplace can also constitute harassment.
- Disability Harassment: This harassment involves harassment of individuals with disabilities, including physical and mental disabilities. Examples include harassment against individuals who use wheelchairs, have hearing or vision impairments, have a mental illness, have learning disabilities, and have physical limitations. Disability harassment involves any visual, verbal, or physical harassment that targets an individual’s disability. Visual in the sense of offensive cartoons or posters, verbal harassment, such as jokes and comments, and physical harassment, such as pushing or touching.
This harassment involves any harassment directed at an individual because of personal characteristics such as age, marital status, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Personal harassment can also be known as bullying, as it typically involves aggressive behavior such as insults, teasing, and threats. It can also involve intimidation, coercion, or manipulation of another person in the workplace. It can also involve posting offensive comments about individuals on social media.
This occurs when an individual or group of individuals in a position of power abuses their authority to harass, intimidate or belittle other individuals or subordinates. Power harassment can take many forms, including verbal harassment, spreading rumors or gossip about an individual, setting unreasonable deadlines, and assigning too much work to a single person. It can also involve making fun of an individual’s work or putting them down in front of others.
This harassment means being constantly put down, insulted, belittled, or threatened in a way that creates an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment. Workplace psychological harassment can take various forms, such as name-calling, being made to feel worthless or inferior, and feeling like your colleagues do not respect you. Victims of such harassment are often more likely to suffer anxiety and depression.
This harassment occurs when harassment is done through digital forms such as social media, email, or text messaging. This harassment may include insulting comments, posting offensive content about an individual, cyberbullying, and sending threatening messages. Online harassment can have a serious psychological impact on victims and can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear.
There are other types of harassment that are not mentioned here. It is important to note that harassment can take many forms, and it is important to be aware of the signs to protect yourself and others from harassment in the workplace.
Effect Of Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment can have a significant negative impact on an organization.
-Decreased Productivity: Harassment can create an uncomfortable environment and decrease morale and productivity. A space where employees are being harassed is a toxic environment, and employees may not be able to concentrate or do their jobs as well as they would in a harassment-free workplace.
-Increased Absences: Harassment can lead to increased absences due to stress and illness. Victims of harassment are more likely to take sick leave, and this can result in decreased productivity and increased costs for an organization.
-Increased Turnover: Harassment can cause employees to feel unsafe or unwelcome, leading them to leave the organization. This can result in increased costs associated with employee turnover, including new staff recruitment and training.
-Loss Of Customers: Harassment in the workplace creates a negative image of an organization and can lead to customers or clients discontinuing their business with the company. Every customer wants the utmost service, but they can’t trust the organization to provide that if the company can’t take care of its employees.
– Tension Between Employees: Harassment can lead to tension between employees, resulting in strained relationships and poor communication.
-Damage The Organization’s Reputation: Harassment can damage an organization’s reputation and lead to a lack of trust from customers, clients, and potential employees.
-Legal Issues: Workplace harassment claim can result in legal action, which can have serious financial and reputational consequences for an organization. This can include court costs, legal fees, fines, and/or damages.
Preventing Workplace Harassment
Organizations should take a proactive approach to prevent harassment in the workplace. Here are some steps organizations can take to prevent harassment:
Establish Clear Policies
Organizations should create and implement a clear harassment policy that outlines what harassment is and how it will be dealt with if reported. It should also provide information on how employees can report harassment, how it will be investigated, and the possible consequences of harassment.
Build A Relationship Based On Trust And Respect
Organizations should create a workplace environment based on respect and open communication. Employees should feel comfortable speaking up about harassment and raising any other concerns they may have in the workplace.
Create A Safe Workplace
Organizations should create a culture where harassment is not tolerated, and employees feel comfortable speaking up if they experience harassment. This can be done through training sessions, open communication channels, providing resources for support, and making sure that employees know where to go for help.
Monitor The Workplace
Organizations should monitor their work and make sure that harassment is not occurring. This can be done through regular check-ins with employees, surveys, and anonymous reporting systems.
Once harassment has been reported, it is important to take swift and appropriate action to protect the victim and prevent further harassment. This should include a thorough investigation and appropriate disciplinary or legal action.
Dealing With Workplace Harassment
As An Employee
If you experience harassment in the workplace, it is important to take action. Here are some steps to take if you experience harassment:
-Document What Happened: Documenting what happened can help you remember the details of the harassment and can be helpful if you decide to take legal action.
-Report It: Reporting harassment is important for organizations to take action. Report harassment to your supervisor or any other person in a position of authority.
-Seek Support: Reach out to colleagues or family members who can provide support and guidance. There are also resources available such as harassment hotlines or legal aid organizations, that can help you with your situation.
-Take Action: Depending on the severity of the harassment, it may be appropriate to take legal action against the harasser. Make sure to consult a lawyer before taking further steps to ensure that you are protected.
As An Employer
If your staff is experiencing harassment in the workplace, it is important to address the issue quickly and appropriately. Here are some steps to take when dealing with harassment in the workplace:
-Take All Reports Seriously: All reports of harassment should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. It is important to respect the confidentiality of those involved, but do not let this stop you from taking action.
-Follow Procedures: Ensure the harassment policies and procedures are followed for a fair investigation process.
-Provide Support: Provide support for those who have experienced harassment, such as counseling, medical attention, or time off work, if needed. It is important to allow them to speak up and share their experiences.
-Take Appropriate Action: After the investigation is complete, take appropriate action, such as disciplinary measures or legal action if necessary. This will help ensure that harassment does not happen again and create a safe workplace for everyone.
It is important to remember that harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated, and organizations must create a safe working environment for all employees. If you are an employee experiencing harassment, take action and report it as soon as possible. If you are an employer, take all necessary steps to protect and create a safe workplace for everyone.
Regardless of whether you are an employee or employer, it is important t to remember that harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated. Organizations must take the necessary steps to prevent harassment and create a safe and harassment-free workplace. By taking the proper measures, organizations can create a positive work environment and ensure that all employees are respected.
Do you need help dealing with harassment in the workplace? At Global Solutions, we provide a variety of services and resources that can help you create a harassment-free work environment. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you maintain unity and increase productivity.