Harassment at work! Deal with it now

  • Created Date27 Dec, 2018
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People trudge to work every day to achieve ambitious targets that they have set for themselves. With a confident step they report to office daily and immerse themselves in an atmosphere where they have to flourish to succeed. But what happens if the employees have to face harassment or unwelcome behaviour from a co-worker? What if the security of the employee is threatened and the ability to blossom in the office becomes impossible?

An employee who has faced sexual harassment may end up terrified, tongue tied, or may lose the ability to respond appropriately in the work environment. But this is not all; there are many other non-sexual forms of harassment that the worker has to face on the job. Physical or verbal run downs, sexual discrimination, religious or racial demarcations, all are a part and parcel of the office harassment deal. Does this surprise you?


Most of the time, it’s the sexual topic that gains priority but its time you understand how the employees can be harassed at work in different ways. Be ready to spot this “mate badgering” and handle it when it raises its ugly head. Gear up and learn how to prevent being run down in the office.

Sexual Harassment:

  1. Misbehaviour regarding sexual advances, unwelcome and lewd comments, dirty words or language, uninvited touch or conduct can leave a person petrified in office.
  2. Showing a co-worker obscene pictures or movies, sending suggestive emails can scare the day lights out of a person. Improper circulation of pornographic material is blasphemy and needs to be nipped in the bud.
  3. Knowing that the stalker might grab hold of you in a dark lonely corner of the office can be really terrifying.
  4. Constantly messaging or requesting a co-worker for sexual favours or spending time alone can be an embarrassment for many.
  5. It is not necessary that there has to be a gender difference, sexual harassment cases between the same sexes have also been reported a number of times. You need protection and you need to take care of yourself right away, act now!

Workplace Harassment:

Verbal office harassment: There may be hundreds of employees working in the office and it is an extremely arduous task for the HR professional to keep an eye on each one. Sometimes the sharpest eye misses out workplace harassment. Many workers do not understand the real meaning of professional performance in the office premises. Using curse words, sharing jokes and back slapping co-workers at every pretext can be very offensive behaviour for many people and can be termed as Personal harassment. Ostracizing behaviours, insults, intimidation, critical remarks and teasing attitude may be contributing to a hostile workplace. No one should be permitted to cross the line unnecessarily. You can report the incident right away so that similar incidents do not happen in future. A prior warning before reporting can also make the task easier.

Written office harassment: Sending mails that contain incorrect graphics or offensive jokes regarding religion, color or race is very hurtful and can break the spirit of a co-worker. This can be considered a part of workplace harassment.

Discriminatory harassment: Discrimination done on the basis of citizenship, sex, customs, ethnicity, race, ancestry, color, mother country, and creed can be extremely embarrassing for the employees. Insulting a person by commenting on the age, manner of speaking or physical appearance is considered as harassment.

Racial insults are intolerable and if you have been a victim of any of these miserable moments report to your HR manager now. Do not let yourself be bullied by a handful of miserable minded people, you need to retaliate and stand up for yourself. Scribble your grievances on the employee complaint form or complaint register and stay protected.

Articulating and gesturing wrong actions, using degrading words or language, showing intolerance of difference, making sexually implicating facial movements or unwanted closeness against the wishes of a co-worker can be very invasive and insulting. This is harassment and needs to be nipped in the bud pronto!

It is not necessary that the action is made for a specific person, rather it could be gender based and categorised as Gender harassment. Women are often asked to step down and not compete for top positions because of their gender. This is one of the most common examples of gender harassment seen often.

People have the right to object to other office mates putting up and displaying lecherous or vulgar pictures or comic strips in a personal workplace. This may be considered objectionable because it is visible to hundreds of others as well. This can be categorised under visual harassment and is very difficult to point out. The sad thing is justice is rarely done because the situation often goes unnoticed. If there is a friendly banter and exchange of lewd information between two colleagues or if derogatory pictures are drawn in the presence of the others, it may be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant for the rest of the employees. Find a solution for this now!

Disability Harassment: If a disabled workmate is ridiculed, teased, isolated or patronised because of an awkward walk, gait or frequent absence from work it needs to be documented by the HR department.

Religious Harassment and racial harassment are closely connected to each other. When the religious beliefs of a particular community are scoffed on and the person is victimised by the other workers it can be considered as an impossible work environment for the victim. The “making fun” may be related to religious traditions, customs, or holidays. Other situations that can be uncomfortable for many will be tolerating stereotypical comments, jokes on religion and forcing others to convert to a different religion.         

Age Related Harassment: Many older people are left out from get-togethers and meetings because of their age. Employment of people who belong to the older age group is complicated. They demand equal rights under the employment acts and under no circumstance should they be criticized, ridiculed, insulted or teased by the younger contemporaries.  

Physical Harassment: Violent behaviour in the workplace can be a threat to the physical state of a human being. This intimidation can be displayed in the form of threats, physical attacks, shoving, pushing, and assault. When these acts are performed aggressively and threaten the safety of another workmate it is called physical harassment. Sometimes nasty physical gestures in a work environment may be offensive to another and this uncomfortable behaviour can also be termed as objectionable.

Power Harassment: Workplace can become a nightmare if people misuse their power. The harasser makes the power disparity evident to the victim at every moment. The victim is normally a subordinate and lower in position according to office hierarchy and the superior may be a manager or head. The subordinates are victimised and abused verbally, psychologically or physical. The harassment includes demeaning demands, excessive and interfering intrusion in personal life, and impossible work activities.  Harassments of any kind start to take a toll on the physical health, work performance, personal self-esteem and social life of the victim.

Online Harassment or Cyber Bullying: This is the most common form of harassment and technological advancements have led to a misuse of digital connections in some cases. This includes spreading of unnecessary rumours, gossip, negative mass chatting, lewd and cheap messaging, with the help of smartphones or computers.

Sexual Orientation: May also be a reason for a victim to be harassed at work. Negative employment action and denial of benefits has been a source of concern in      many workplaces. Co-workers are scoffed and run down because of a disability, being bisexual, gay, pansexual, asexual or lesbians still in many workplaces. Social awareness is taking over slowly but discrimination that constitutes to harassment in the workplace still exists.                        

The workplace atmosphere is challenging and the employee needs to be prepared for all harassments. In extreme cases, the situation may lead to legal complications but at every step of the way it is imperative to document the incidents taking place around you so that they can be investigated by the HR manager and the vandalizing party punished! Are you a party to any of these harassments? Reply in the comment section and share your views!

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