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If you saw our recent post, “What the Workplace Harassment Law Reform Will Mean for Your Business”, you saw how the latest workplace harassment legislation to pass Senate is working to fix a broken system, and what you can expect the moment it is signed into law.

Workplace harassment takes on many different forms; you should be able to identify the most common forms of harassment and know what to do when you see it happening.

Workplace harassment is evident throughout all types of work environments in the U.S. From workplace bullying to outright discrimination, it’s critical that you and your team fully understand workplace harassment and are educated on how to handle it. By implementing a workplace harassment training course and creating a written policy, you can take the necessary steps to create a safe working environment for all your employees.

In many situations, individuals who previously thought they would be able to recognize harassment and report it to those in charge find themselves confused when they become a victim. Although approaching the subject of workplace harassment can feel uncomfortable, nervousness is a normal feeling. These claims should be taken seriously and addressed quickly and thoroughly, with as much discretion as possible.

This is where the proper training pays off, “Educating your team on the facts while exploring various workplace harassment scenarios empowers them the confidence they need if the situation were to present itself. ,” says Michael Rash, CEO of MCDA CCG. “Furthermore, laying out a clear path of action with the proper set of procedures helps to prevent any confusion.”

What is Defined as Workplace Harassment?

It’s important to remember that not all forms of workplace harassment leave physical evidence. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), misconduct can include offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Understanding what is happening to you can help when broaching the subject.

Workplace harassment is a serious issue with many gray areas. If are the witness of a crime or experience workplace harassment yourself, it is your obligation to report it. If you’re worried about losing your job in retaliation, remember that you’re protected by workplace harassment laws.

Types of workplace harassment
Digital Harassment

Digital harassment is the newest form of harassment and occurs across many outlets. It involves posting threats or demeaning comments on social media, anonymously bullying someone online, creating a webpage to mock and belittle someone, and making false allegations online.

While hiding behind a screen has enabled people to become braver and meaner, evidence of harassment is documentable and easily proved. This helps so much with reporting and proving it.

Physical Harassment

Physical harassment in the workplace comes in various degrees. These can include unwanted gestures like touching an employee’s clothing, hair, face, or skin, or more severe gestures like physical assault, threats of violence, and damage to personal property.

Because of the variation in degrees of physical harassment, it can be hard to identify.

For example, if an employee regularly shoves a co-worker, but the victim has never been hurt from it, this may not be seen as harassment. But even if there is no severe physical harm, it can still be considered physical harassment.

Psychological Harassment

Psychological harassment is similar to verbal harassment, but it is more camouflaged and consists of tactics that are intended to mentally break down the victim, chip away at their self-esteem and undermine them.

Actions such as taking credit for someone else’s accomplishment, making impossible demands, or constantly requiring an employee to perform demeaning tasks that are outside of their job scope may not seem like much, but it can be a form of deliberate psychological bullying.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a serious offense and more common than you might think. According to a ZipRecruiter survey, 40% of female respondents and 14% of male respondents have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s a prevalent crime that is not exclusive to women. A person of any gender can be the perpetrator or victim of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, such as inappropriate touching, sexual jokes, sharing pornography, sending sexual messages, or requiring sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or job security. Although defining sexual harassment may seem straightforward, it is not always so obvious.

This creates a gray area that makes it easy for perpetrators to get away with their conduct. Because most victims do not want to draw attention or face retaliation (such as job loss), they decide to keep it to themselves and hope it will get better. However, if someone is creating a hostile working environment and making you feel uncomfortable, you should file a complaint.

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment consists of demeaning remarks, offensive gestures and unreasonable criticism. It can involve insults, slurs, unwanted “jokes” and hurtful comments.

Verbal harassment can be difficult to recognize and is often a gray area, since it is a nonphysical form of violence.

Often, acts of yelling, cursing, or making inappropriate remarks or jokes about a co-worker is seen as a case of conflict, even though such behavior has the ability to leave a lasting negative impact on the victim. This physiological impact can result in outcomes such as depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, workplace harassment is a serious issue. 

Employees must know who and where to turn to when they feel threatened, uncomfortable or in danger. A lack of physical evidence should never deter a victim from filing a complaint.

Unfortunately, many organizations lack-or are completely absent of- formal policies and training pertaining to workplace harassment. Here at MCDA CCG, we have heard every possible excuse from companies who failed to address this subject. But the truth is, there is no sensible reason that rationalizes this negligence. 

Workplace harassment programs are a powerful way to show your team what they can do to prevent and deal with harassment at work, and our team works to set a whole new standard in training. When you reach out to one of our HR experts, you will receive customized training session(s) guaranteed to deter predatory behavior, create a safe working environment, increase your employee’s confidence and so much more.

You will learn:

  • How to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace
  • How all employees can take action to prevent or stop workplace harassment
  • Why managers need to be vigilant at all times
  • How harassment can be unintended, yet devastating to the victim
  • What to do if you are being harassed

If you would like to learn more about customized harassment training for your company, contact us today by phone, email, or on our contact page directly!

 

Other HR Resources you may like…

What the Workplace Harassment Law Reform Will Mean for Your Business

Mandate Withdrawal: “Can I Require My Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?”

Do’s and Don’ts: Employee Handbook Rules You Should Know

The Latest HR Trends That May Impact Your Business Compliance

What are the Consequences of a Poorly Written Employee Handbook?

Employee Handbooks: 9 Must-Have Policies for 2022

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