Workplace harassment refers to discrimination among employees by their employers or colleagues in terms of race, caste, religion, gender, nationality, age, sexual or physical appearance. Often, such incidents are not reported by the victims as they are not sure of what qualifies as workplace harassment.
With so many types of workplace harassment and their interpretations sometimes even the most meticulous HR professional might miss the signs.
So to help you and making your workplace safer, here are some common misinterpreted 10 types of workplace harassment.
10 Types of workplace harassment
Verbal Harassment can be difficult to recognize as it is a non-physical form of violence. It consists of demeaning remarks related to your age, physical appearance, insults, or unwanted comedy/jokes about a co-worker. Such behavior can have a psychological impact on the victim and may lead them to depression, anxiety, and blood pressure.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment:
“Quid Pro Quo” refers to “this for that”. In this situation, often promotions, transfers, or job benefits are used as a medium to get some sexual favors.
Psychological harassment brings negative effects in the working environment, it usually begins with discrediting the victims for the work performed by them or by spreading rumors about them. This often leads to isolating the victim, opposing whatever they say or suggest. Such incidents affect the victim psychologically and break them down mentally.
Digital Harassment or Cyber Bullying:
What is Digital Harassment or Cyber Bullying? it is kinds of online harassment out there, including the annoying (rude comments ), the invasive (doing), or the traumatic (cyberstalking, threats of violence, and everything in-between). A new form of harassment, digital harassment or cyberbullying can damage a person as much as psychological harassment. This type of harassment includes creating a fake profile/webpages to target the victim and posting demeaning information about them online.
Physical harassment in a workplace is difficult to assess, sometimes, even a playful shoving can lead to physical harassment. Common examples of physical harassment include threats with the intent to inflict harm, physical attacks like kicking, shoving, damaging property to intimidate, etc.
Sexual harassment is a very common type of workplace harassment which is not limited to women anymore, men are also victims of the harassment. Thus gender cannot define the perpetrator or the victim of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment includes sharing inappropriate pictures, sending sexual messages, or asking favors for exchange of job security.
Personal harassment is a simple form of leg-pulling at the workplace by seniors or managers of their junior employees. It can be damaging as the line between a joke and an offensive comedy is blur. Personal humiliation, offensive jokes, inappropriate comments are some of the examples of personal harassment.
Power harassment is a very old and common form of workplace harassment wherein the harasser has higher authority in the office hierarchy. Such harassment may include work targets to achieve in a stipulated time which might be impossible to achieve as per the employee’s capabilities, interfering in the employee’s personal life.
Racial Harassment and Religious Harassment:
Religious discrimination is a familiar problem that many people face at work, involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The people join organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, or others who have sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. Sometimes, an employee being discriminated based on their skin color, country of origin, physical attributes, or religious beliefs is referred to as racial and religious harassment.
Gender/Sexual Orientation Harassment:
Discriminating between employees based upon their genders or sexual orientation is common workplace harassment. Negative stereotypes of what type of jobs should men and women take are often the main reasons behind such harassment experienced by employees. For example, male nurses are harassed as that is considered a woman’s job and women shouldn’t be at top of the office hierarchy as they are not considered as leader material.
How to report workplace harassment?
Every organization has a Human Resource department which the intention to help the employees where they feel uncomfortable in reporting or in danger as they lack physical evidence to support their grievances.
Reporting of workplace harassment is important as there could be other victims who are afraid to report and might gain some courage to come forward against the harasser.
Many organizations have policies for workplace harassment but in case, your organization does not have such policies, you can consider following some suggestions listed below in case of non-violent situations:
- Discuss the reasons with the harasser, in a private setting and direct them to stop harassing you.
- In case that doesn’t work out, escalate the matter to your immediate manager or discuss with HR in case your perpetrator is the manager itself. If possible, provide evidence, like screenshots of email or messages or any eye witness.
With the above mentioned, one should remember to avoid retaliation as that can escalate the issue and to avoid complaining or discussing the events with your co-workers as they can’t do much and may water down your version if they’re brought to testify.
Workplace harassment could be any offensive, intimidating, humiliating, or threatening behavior of an individual (who could be a supervisor or sub-ordinate or a colleague) against a person. There are some workplace harassment laws like Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, Inequality/Unequal remuneration - Code on Wages, 2019 / Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, For harassment caused through unreasonable employment terms - Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and many others sections under India Penal Code.
These are the common 10 types of workplace harassment worldwide which are sometimes ignored or avoided instead of reporting to the concerned authority.