Workplace harassment is quite common but unfortunately difficult to spot and to control. Imagine spotting harassment in a huge company. Sounds difficult, right? With so many employees and their own ideas of what harassment is. Hearing the F-word might be offensive for some, while others might disagree.
EEOC identifies workplace harassment with creating a hostile workplace environment. And here is when the toughest part of HR professional’s job comes into play. It is impossible to find out if every single employee is doing OK, and if not to manage that successfully.
Do not worry, however, below are the most common types of workplace harassment. Whether you are the employer, the HR manager or the employee this will definitely clear the confusions you might have.
This is probably the most common type of workplace harassment you need to watch out for. It can come in form of an email with an offensive joke or a face to face humiliation based on one’s gender, religion, race, etc. Employees might face verbal harassment in the following ways as well:
- Constantly asking for dates or sexual favors through text and or in person
- Sending emails with insulting graphics
- Asking about one’s genetic disorders
- Imitating the accent of foreign employees
So, know that name-calling and slurs have no place to be in the workplace.
You might think of physical harassment as obvious and brutal. People do not want their derogatory actions to cost them their job and that is what makes physical harassment so subtle. If you suspect somebody is pulling a hand gesture to convey a curse word, it is indeed a physical harassment. And so are, touching someone or their clothes without consent, deliberately standing too close to a person, making sexually undertoned facial expressions or even playing music with offensive language.
However, most commonly physical harassment in the workplace is associated with sexual harassment. Also note, that harassment does not have to be direct. If two employees converse and use derogatory language in the process, and someone else hears it, he/she can call it harassment.
This is a bit more complex than the previous two because of its subjective nature. Do you have the right to be offended if a co-worker wears a shirt with vulgar language to work? While this particular one is debatable, here are more concrete examples.
- Showcasing images or videos of sexual nature
- Watching videos that involve violence or pornography
- Creating violent or derogatory images
A drawing pinned on one’s workplace can stir up quite a debate as it might be amusing to some and offensive to others.
As you see, harassment cases can be very subtle and debatable in nature. Therefore, each case should be evaluated individually with its facts and circumstances. Controlling and preventing harassment is a long-term task that requires attention to nuances. So, it is very important for everybody who enters a workplace to be educated about what types of harassment they might face and what has to be done to prevent them.