Harassment in the workplace can come in various forms and can negatively affect the work environment and employees’ personal lives. Workplace harassment is inexcusable and should never occur, but unfortunately it still happens. By understanding the different types of workplace harassment, you can take action to stop it.

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The Different Types of Workplace Harassment 

Workplace harassment becomes unlawful when the perpetrator creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.  

Sexual Harassment 

Sexual harassment is a serious offense and a prevalent crime that not only affects women but men as well. Anyone can be the perpetrator or the victim of sexual harassment. Examples of sexual harassment include: 

  • Unwanted sexual advances 
  • Sexual jokes 
  • Sharing pornography 
  • Inappropriate gestures 
  • Displaying sexual posters 

Sexual harassment can also occur as a quid pro quo, which is when supervisors require sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or job security.  

Discriminatory Harassment 

Discriminatory harassment occurs verbally and/or physically when someone is harassed based on their protected characteristics. Some of the most common types of discriminatory harassment include 

  • Racial harassment 
  • Religion harassment 
  • Gender harassment 
  • Disability harassment 
  • Age harassment 
  • Sexual orientation harassment 

Personal Harassment 

Personal harassment is a very common type of harassment. While it’s not based on protected characteristics, it is still damaging the employees and the work environment. This includes: 

  • Inappropriate comments 
  • Offensive jokes 
  • Intimidation tactics 
  • Ostracism/isolation 
  • Critical remarks 
  • Personal humiliation 

Physical Harassment 

Physical harassment, also called workplace violence, is a type of workplace harassment that involves threats or physical attacks. In extreme cases, it can be classified as assault. Examples of this include: 

  • Direct threats of violence 
  • Physical attacks: including hitting, shoving, kicking, etc. 
  • Threatening behavior 
  • Physical intimidation 

Online Harassment 

In recent years, many companies have converted to remote work and taking advantage of technologies that keep us connected. However, online harassment is an undeniable disadvantage. Online harassment can include 

  • Sending harassing messages to the victim 
  • Spreading lies/gossiping about the victim through social media 
  • Sharing images or messages on mass chats about the victim 

What Employees Can Do to Stop These Types of Workplace Harassment 

If the victim is able, one of the first things s/he can do is to object to the harassment directly to the harasser and tell them to stop. Whether you tell the harasser to stop or not, the next step to take would be to report the harassment to your employer’s HR department. It is important to make this complaint in writing, so it’s documented. It is also important to review your employer’s anti-harassment policy, if one exists, and to follow any steps outlined in that policy. If the company does not have an HR person and there is no anti-harassment policy, then the next option may be to report the harassment to your direct supervisor. If this cannot be done and you are unable to resolve the situation within the employer’s internal procedures, then the next measure is to contact a workplace harassment attorney. 

Talk to Foley & Small, Your Employment Case Lawyers 

Contacting a workplace harassment attorney can help if you are being harassed at work.  Though it is not required that an employee is represented by an attorney to pursue a harassment complaint, it is important to understand your legal rights. At Foley & Small, we represent individual employees and groups of employees who have been victims of harassment. 

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