Workplace harassment is a problem in nearly every workplace in the United States. Harassment cases can be found in small businesses and large corporations. These claims have been against managers, co-workers, supervisors, and both men and women. While there are some industries that rank highest in harassment, namely the food industry, IT/computer software, and medical fields, harassment is prevalent everywhere.
It is the responsibility of the employer to prevent any harassment from happening and to report and resolve any harassment that does. The employer is required by law to maintain a safe working environment for all their employees. If this environment becomes hostile, unsafe, or uncomfortable the employer can find themselves in more than just legal trouble. These unsafe environments lead to anxiety, depression, unproductivity, and violence in the workplace. Workplace harassment can lead to expensive lawsuits, loss of productivity, and loss of employees.
Harassment can include behavior directed at an individual or group based on their race, religion, sex, age, or disability. Some of the most common types of harassment in the workplace are sexual harassment, discrimination, and personal bullying.
Sexual harassment covers a wide range of behaviors. It includes any unwelcome behavior based on a person’s sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. This includes unsolicited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment doesn’t only include sexual behaviors, it can also include anything related to someone’s sexual orientation or gender, including their gender identity. Jokes, comments, touching, and inappropriate material in the workplace are all considered sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is more common among women, but not by much. The EEOC has found that out of the sexual harassment cases filed, only one-fifth are filed by men. The discrepancy could be contributed to men being less likely to report sexual harassment cases, especially in male-dominated industries.
Prevention is the best way to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace. It is important to create a no-tolerance policy and provide online sexual harassment training to help employees understand and identify sexually harassing behaviors. The majority of victims don’t report harassment because they either didn’t understand what qualifies or were afraid nothing would be done.
Out of the people who have reported harassment in the workplace, 54 percent say nothing was resolved. This lack of resolution creates a hostile work environment, leading to employee turnover, lack of productivity, and even lawsuits.
Discrimination is any behavior meant to be intimidating, isolating, or hostile based on class, race, age, religion, or country of origin. These behaviors can include racial slurs, derogatory remarks, threats, or stereotyping. Discriminatory or biased harassment accounts for 43 percent of the harassment claims.
Other behavior that can be considered discriminatory harassment is a lack of job advancement based on race, age, or country of origin. It can also include companies not allowing for religious expression in the workplace. Retaliation for any behavior or affiliations can also be considered harassment. For more types of discriminatory behaviors, check out https://www.justice.gov/crt/types-employment-discrimination.
Discrimination is protected by federal laws and enforced by the EEOC. Discrimination lawsuits can be a costly experience for any company. Discrimination can be prevented by creating an open line of communication with your employees and making sure you are listening to the concerns of every employee. If there is any harassment found, action must be taken or you and your company can be held liable.
Bullying is any comment or action meant to hurt or isolate an individual. Personal bullying accounts for 48 percent of harassment found in the workplace, with some employees seeing an increase in bullying by moving to online or remote work. Bullying can be berating, coercing, or intimidating someone. It can also include dismissing someone’s ideas or work for non-work-related reasons.
Nearly half of the workforce population has experienced bullying by someone at work. Bullying in the workplace can significantly decrease job performance. Bullying has been known to lead to a lack of confidence, an inability to concentrate, trouble making decisions, and lower productivity. Bullying disrupts and distracts your employees. It can also cause adverse health effects, such as high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and ulcers.
Creating a hostile work environment can be pricey for your company. Uncomfortable employees are less likely to stick around. They are also more likely to call in sick, be distracted, and be less committed to the company. There is a complete list of the effects of bullying in the workplace here.
Prevention is key to avoiding uncomfortable workplace situations. Create and enforce anti-harassment policies. Create a safe environment for your employees to report any harassing behavior, and require mandatory harassment training on a regular basis. The more people can understand harassing behaviors, and know how to report them, the safer the work environment will be for everyone.