Workplace Harassment Explained

Most people have to go to work to earn a living and support themselves. When at the workplace, you should be able to feel comfortable and do your best work each day. Unfortunately, workplace harassment is all too common and can leave people feeling uncomfortable or even threatened. Understanding what workplace harassment is, and how to respond to it, will help you to protect yourself and your employment.

What is Workplace Harassment?

Workplace harassment is often difficult for people to define. There is a fine line between general interaction between employees and harassment. A good starting definition would be any action that is belittling or threatening toward an individual or group at the workplace. This type of behavior can even be done unintentionally, but regardless of intent, it should never be tolerated.

Examples of Workplace Harassment

For many people, it is tempting to rationalize the bad behavior of others. Getting specific examples of workplace harassment can help you know that what you are experiencing is truly inappropriate and action needs to be taken. Here are some common examples of workplace harassment:

  • Verbal Harassment – Any type of verbal comments, jokes, innuendos, name-calling, or other unwelcome comments, especially if they continue after they are asked to stop.
  • Sexual Harassment – Any type of unwelcome sexual advances, comments, or behavior from a co-worker, supervisor, vendor, or other individual or group in the workplace.
  • Racial Harassment – Any type of mistreatment, teasing, or comments directed at one or more people based on their race or national origin.
  • Physical Harassment or Violence – Physical harassment, including slapping, poking, or other things that may seem minor, can constitute harassment.

What Can Be Done to Stop Workplace Harassment?

If you are the victim of workplace harassment, it is important to take some specific steps to put an end to it and protect yourself. First, make sure you document every instance of the harassment so that you can reference exactly what happened, and when. You should then report the harassment to a superior and/or human resources, depending on your company policy. Any meetings you have with your supervisor or human resources should also be documented so that you can show that you attempted to go through the proper channels for ending the harassment. Whether talking to the person or group who is harassing you, your supervisor, or human resources, you need to make sure you are being very clear that the behavior in question is unacceptable and needs to stop.

If the harassment continues even after it has been reported to the proper channels at your company, it may be necessary to take legal action. You do not have to wait to be fired to take action against harassment.  If you are forced to resign or quit due to the harassment, you may still be able to take legal action against your employer.

An experienced attorney can review your situation, provide advice on what to do, and help you through any legal actions that need to be taken. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation today.