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5 Types of Workplace Harassment Managers Need to be Aware Of and What to Do About It

 

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to be aware of the types of harassment employees can suffer, as well as what to do about it. No matter if the employees under your supervision work closely together or they are workers who are more independent, it’s up to you to ensure their safety and wellbeing within the work environment. Here are five types of workplace harassment you should be aware of and what you can do if an employee experiences any of them.

 

1. Verbal Harassment

Workplace harassment, which is verbal in nature is nonphysical and only occurs through words or gestures. It consists of any type of demeaning remarks, including insults, racial slurs, inappropriate jokes or comments intended to hurt someone’s feelings. It also can include offensive gestures or criticism that goes beyond what is reasonable. Yelling and/or cursing at someone can also be considered verbal harassment.

What you can do about it: Confront the perpetrator about her behavior and make it known  that you have a no-tolerance policy for verbal harassment. Document the incident and give the person a warning that if any further harassment occurs, there will be more serious consequences.

 

2. Digital Harassment

Digital harassment, also known as cyberbullying, can be just as traumatizing as if the bullying were done face-to-face. According to information from Hand law office: “Harassment may be charged if, using a phone or other electronic means such as email, a person communicates with the intent to harass, threatens bodily injury or property damage or communicates obscenity.”

What you can do about it: Once your employee reports the digital harassment to you, encourage her to take screenshots of texts or pictures that are received and to save emails. Once you have evidence, document it and confront the employee about the harassment. Depending on how serious the digital evidence is, you might have to consider calling the authorities, as well as termination.

 

3. Physical harassment

Physical harassment differs from sexual harassment in that although the harassment involves touching, it is not in any way sexual in nature. Simple, uninvited gestures, such as someone touching your shoulder, face, clothing, hair or skin can be considered physical harassment if it is carried out in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

Other physical harassment gestures include assault or threats of bodily harm or damage to the person’s property.

What you can do about it: Ask the victim to document each incident that has occurred. Once you have the documentation, meet with the perpetrator and make it clear that you will not tolerate any form of physical harassment. You may need to place the employee on probation or even fire him. In the event that the physical harassment ever turns violent, call 911.

 

4. Psychological harassment

Psychological harassment can be considered a form of mental torture because it can include tactics that are intended to cause a person mental anguish, destroy self-esteem or gaslight them. Examples are taking credit for someone else’s hard work, making impossible demands, requiring extra work that’s way outside of the job scope, moving objects or changing data to cause confusion or rudely rejecting every suggestion the person makes.

What you can do about it: Ask the victim to document every incident to build evidence against the harasser. Because this is a difficult thing to pin down, make it clear to all employees that any type of harassment, including psychological, will not be tolerated. Once you have documentation of the incidents, meet with the perpetrator to see what he has to say. Document the meeting and decide how best to proceed, such as putting the employee on probation or terminating him.

 

5. Sexual harassment

A surprising number of workers, both male and female, have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. This type of harassment can include touching someone inappropriately, telling sexual jokes, sending pornographic pictures via email, text or through social media, requesting sexual favors or making sexual remarks about a person’s body or attributes.

What you can do about it: Ask the victim to document each incident — past and future — and take screenshots of or save any type of digital communication for evidence. Meet with the perpetrator and discuss the incidents. Decide how to proceed. You could refer the employee to counseling if your workplace offers an employee assistance program. You could also put the employee on probation with the understanding that he could lose his job if any further incidents occur.

 

Going Forward

It’s vital to have practices for preventing harassment in place. Have a strict no-tolerance policy for any form of harassment and make it known to all employees that violating the policy could result in legal action or termination.  

Require employees to end different types of harassment training so that they are fully aware of what harassment entails. This can make it much easier to terminate a worker if needed because they have been made aware of what is not acceptable behavior in advance.

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