Avoiding Workplace Harassment!

Avoiding Workplace Harassment!

Did your colleague sabotage and acclaim your work? Did your boss threaten you for no reason? Does your peer leave offensive messages on e-mail or gossip behind your back? Do your seniors put you down in front of customers, management or other workers due to poor communication skills? Does your boss talk rudely to you?

What constitutes workplace harassment? All the situations mentioned above and more add up to workplace harassment. Harassment covers behavior ranging from restrained pressure to forceful tactics in any form of verbal, written or physical conduct that belittles or demonstrates aggression or loathing towards a person on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, status, political affiliation and/or disability.

Various reasons for harassment of peers and subordinates include creating a hostile or unpleasant work environment, interference with employee’s work performance or that which affects the ability of an employee to carry out his or her duties, future employment opportunities or compensation. It is important to recognize harassment signs early to avoid major conflict at a later stage. The victim of harassment should strongly voice his or her objection to offensive behavior, allowing the offending individual(s) to take corrective measures.

Organizations should have a strict workplace harassment prevention policy in place. The policy should outline the organization and its employees’ commitment towards harassment and a proper code of conduct at work.

The first thing an employee can do to avoid workplace harassment is to simply avoid the person(s). The victim can reason with the offender(s) for finding out the root cause of the inappropriate behavior. In case the problem persists, the victim should get in touch with his or her manager or HR department.

If the manager or HR department does not help resolve the problem, the victim should consider taking legal action against the Company for creating a hostile workplace environment and against the offender for harassment.

Organizations should have a complaint handling system for reporting, investigating and resolving workplace complaints. The system should be unbiased and comply with workers, managers, superiors, etc.

By training and educating employees on workplace harassment issues, companies can avoid or control harassment. Many organizations have sensitized themselves to the needs of employees. They organize sensitivity training or diversity training to facilitate respect between people of different religion, ages, genders or races.

Such training should invite participants to talk about any conflict in the face of work environment and encourage them to share their perspectives on the conflicts. Role play exercises by enacting conflict scenarios can help participants realize how their actions can affect other people.

Likewise, even governments have laws in place that provide victims with legal protection from all kinds of workplace harassment.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

View E-book on How to Capitalize Technological Resources to Enrich Workplace Training

  • Joshua Riddell

    If the CEO is not setting a good example and defining harrassment and intolerance of it from the beginning, training would prove fruitless. Ideally, a ”one strike” policy would deter harassment.

    Most economical from an E-learning point of view is for large corporations to have a required online course and exam offered every year, with certificates printed for the employees to be submitted to HR. But if it is a small company, then perhaps a one hour training session would be more viable.

  • Julie Biddle

    If someone is using forceful tactics – anything that “belittles or demonstrates agression” in the office it is harassment regardless of the age, race, sex, etc. of the recipient and it is not to be tolerated.

    Anyone who displays that type of unprofessional behaviour should be disciplined up to and including losing their job. Companies can’t afford to appear to condone this type of behaviour – many have been the targets of law suits and have paid large settlements.


  • Ian Straus

    If the question is what organizations need to do if they want to pursue this:

    Begin with a policy that says it’s not allowed, and a complaint procedure. It has to have real management backing. Think it through first: You may be faced with the choice of firing someone who is productive but a nasty bigot, vs. abandoning the program.

    However, warning, if you have someone run the program they need to be an honest broker, not dedicated to puttting some groups down but able to deal with people as individuals. And be aware of the potential for people to use this process for their own unrelated ends, that is to get rid of someone who knows too much or as a bargaining tactic for a pay raise.

  • Rick

    >The first thing an employee can do to avoid workplace harassment is to simply avoid the person(s).

    I disagree. Passivity would only encourage it further.

    Harassment is just the adult version of bullying. It’s something each of us needs to learn to deal with, face to face. Running to Mommy, or HR, is not a solution — it’s just avoidance. Ultimately, you have to stand up for yourself. If, after doing so, you’re still getting interference, and it’s significantly impacting your work, then speak directly to your boss, or if he or she is the problem, further up the chain.

    Yes, yes, we’re all afraid of lawsuits. But I’m more afraid of us all becoming a bunch of wimps who need department policies to stick up for us, because we’ve lost the ability to do so for ourselves.

  • hi this is tha greate article and i want to some sugession or some legal action.
    the senario is that in my friends little software company pvt ltd office. in there so much supocated environment. In limited time the all boss (included director) forced to completeing target and one time if any employ completed that target then just next day they forced to encrease target and they do not give the time to releaf, you can`t turn your neck, you can not talk to any one, lunch is only 20 minuts and after you sit down on the sheet and work on computer. this company employees are very frustated on that environment and health is go down all of them. his office boss just inject the bloods of employees. this company select only fershers of age 20 to 23. and this company employee are go down with his/her health/welth and knowledge. you can say company owner not open a company its only a shop or factory where a hunter hunts the animals, they cannot give any leave and if they give leave they just cut the salary. in this company no metter how much you have knowledge only his politics is that you are labour and he is a god and he will hunting you. they per day knock and raised the reason like why you are pass smile? , why you are not seeing in your computer screen?. son of office owner he is illiterate but he has appointed to search the reasons that how can bound d employee and herassment also. they are gaining overload on the employees day by day. they are vanishing the future of youths and after some time youths are go down with his health wealth and mentaly.

  • Arvind Singh

    Every company should have an anti-harassment policy in place and a basic committee to investigate serious charges of sexual harassment. If the accused is found guilty, he should be dismissed from the job. http://www.lawisgreek.com/indian-laws-for-women-sexual-harassment-policy-for-work-place-implementation/


    Dear all,

    I am a HR proffessional working in automobile dealership. My colleagues offen passes comments on me and if i object them or revert them they makes false complaints against me to the management. Management is not taking any concrete action against them. They had even clicked my photographs without my permission on regular basis which is a mental torture and harrassment for me. what should i do? should i leave the organisation and let them go just like that or i should take step against them….

  • Veera Ravi Kumar

    Nice article