Harassment in the workplace can take a physical and psychological toll on employees. An employer’s responsibility to provide a workplace that is safe for all includes identifying and punishing harassment when it occurs. Employers should make clear to all employees that there is no place for harassment in the workplace.
There are different types of harassment. Each can have profoundly negative effects on employees, whether they were the target of the harassment or a witness to it.
1. Sexual harassment
There are generally two forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a supervisor offers employment benefits to a subordinate in return for sexual favors. A hostile work environment happens when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances and/or conduct or comments because of their sex, even if the harasser is not motivated by sexual desire.
According to Business News Daily, 35% of female survey respondents report having experienced workplace sexual harassment. However, that does not mean that it does not happen to men. Same-sex sexual harassment is actionable as long as the employee can show the harassment was because of sex.
2. Physical harassment
Physical harassment includes unwanted touching, rubbing against someone, assault, and physical interference with movement or work. Sometimes this type of harassment can involve “indirect” physical contact such as destroying an employee’s personal belongings.
3. Verbal harassment
Verbal harassment can take the form of insulting jokes at an employee’s expense, offensive language or slurs, demeaning remarks or unreasonable criticism.
4. Digital harassment
Digital harassment is a relatively new form of harassment, but as more employers embrace social media and other forms of online communication, it has become more common. Digital harassment can consist of threats, demeaning comments and false allegations against a certain person posted online. Often, the person making the comments creates a false persona to obscure his or her identity.
Every situation is unique and those who find themselves in uncomfortable work environments often feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are many trained professionals who can assist those who believe they have been subjected to harassment.