Harassment is not uncommon. People are harassed on a daily basis, and what is more shocking is that people may not even be aware of it. Yes, 34% of employees cannot identify behavior contributing to a hostile working environment.
However, the situation can sometimes get so bad that people may have to change jobs. One in seven women and around one in seventeen men change jobs due to harassment at work. Shocking? It is. But when a person has the knowledge, they can seek the support of the legal system and make the perpetrator face the consequences of their actions.
8 Types of Harassment
Harassment is any unwanted action or statement that can make someone humiliated, uncomfortable, afraid, or stressed.
While most companies take steps to avoid a toxic work environment, it is very common. Understanding harassment is the first step toward a safe working environment. The eight most common types of harassment at work are:
1. Physical Harassment
It is the most common type of harassment in professional settings like healthcare, education, social service, and law enforcement. It could be a physical attack, threat, or even assault.
Physical harassment includes threats to cause harm, pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, and destroying property. Even if no physical harm is involved, all the actions mentioned above or threats are still considered physical harassment.
How to stop: Employers must be notified, and strict actions must be taken against the perpetrators. Companies must have strict regulations against harassment, and even the smallest of harassing acts must be punished.
2. Personal Harassment
Personal harassment is not bound by the law, as other forms of harassment are. It is known to the commoner as bullying and is not discriminatory or illegal. This includes favoritism, inappropriate remarks or comments, dirty and offensive jokes, intimidation, and humiliation.
Examples include favoritism of employees who accompany the boss for drinks or a particular employee who is humiliated by staff and employer.
How to stop: As no laws protect against personal harassment, you need to have situational presence and avoid as much unnecessary conflict as possible. However, if it is very severe and starts affecting your work performance, it may be better to consider other job opportunities.
3. Discriminatory Harassment
Discriminatory harassment is different from the above two in that the intention is more important than the act itself. It is aimed at a person based on their membership in a certain group. Such harassment is directed toward a person’s race, religion, sexuality, age, and other factors.
It is based on a person’s skin color, race, hair type, nose shape, and so on. Such harassment includes racist jokes, showing disgust, and disrespecting culture.
Religious harassment includes acts of contempt, hatred, or disgust directed at a person’s religious beliefs.
When discrimination is due to a person’s gender, it is termed gender harassment. This is because of the societal belief that every gender has a specific role and any deviation is a sign of going against nature and creating issues for themselves and others.
With more people openly accepting their sexuality, sexuality-based harassment is also on the rise. Anyone can be a victim of such harassment. For example, a heterosexual man may be harassed for working as a make-up artist, which is supposedly the job of a homosexual man.
Such harassment is not only directed at a person with a disability but also at those who use disability services or are acquainted with a disabled person. It includes staying away from the person, isolating them, denying necessary rights, and discriminating because of their disability or relationship to the disabled person.
Age-based discrimination is when a person faces taunts, criticism, teasing, and insults due to their age.
How to stop it: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals above 40 years of age against age-based harassment. It shields them from age-based discrimination with regard to hiring, pay, promotion, termination, and other terms of employment.
4. Psychological Harassment
Any action or comment that affects a person’s mental health is termed “psychological harassment.” It could involve putting them down, criticizing them, belittling their thoughts, spreading rumors, or isolating them.
Such harassment affects the individual’s self-esteem, may cause mental breakdowns, and affects social life.
How to stop: You can inform your employer and your union about the harassment and ask them to take the necessary action. You can also file a complaint, sue your harasser, or talk to the police.
5. Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse is primarily due to personal conflicts. While it is not illegal, it can be a significant cause for concern if it worsens. It can make the victim feel uneasy and is extremely unpleasant.
Verbal abuse includes cursing, insulting, yelling, body-shaming, offensive gestures, and jokes.
How to stop: Since verbal abuse is not illegal, you must take decisive action to stop it. It includes calling out abusive behavior and making a clear demand to end it.
6. Sexual Harassment
The “Me Too” movement has encouraged many people to speak up about the sexual abuse they faced in the workplace. It includes unwanted sexual conduct, behavior, and advances and is punishable by law.
It includes sharing sexual photos, invading someone’s personal space, passing sexual comments, and inappropriate touching or gestures.
How to stop: Companies play an important role in the prevention of sexual harassment. If you face any harassment, involve the management and complain if necessary.
7. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
It is a form of sexual harassment that is based on exchange. For example, an employer may offer a promotion in exchange for a sexual favor.
The exchange could be any benefit like pay raise, avoiding dismissal or demotion, or opportunities.
How to stop: In such cases, the abuser is often someone in high-level management, like a supervisor or manager. The best course of action is to first report the incident to the authorities and, if necessary, the police.
It is a form of harassment that takes place through social media and the internet. It includes sending inappropriate texts, memes, emails, images, or videos. The actions are repeated and intentional and aim to harm the victim.
How to stop: The victim must save and submit the evidence to the authorities. The authorities must then look at the evidence and take strict action.