Types Of Job Harassment And How To Deal With It
Most people hear the term job harassment and immediately think of sexual harassment however, there are many other levels to this term. Of course, sexual harassment is the most talked about and common issue in the work place but it is definitely not the only one. Job harassment is so severe in some areas that many local and state governments have specific laws regarding anti-discrimination that prohibits harassment for certain classes of individuals.
What Is Harassment?
Harassment is a broad term that covers a very wide range of behaviors that are labeled offensive. It is a behavior that has been intended to upset, threaten or disturb someone. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed in Congress that prohibited discrimination and became the basis for harassment laws.
Types Of Harassment
- Sexual Orientation or Marital Status – Job harassment on marital status or sexual orientation is strictly prohibited. This has become such a serious issue that many employers now include a booklet on this topic that must be read and signed by new employees.
- Gender Identification – Some jurisdictions have passed laws against harassing on topics of transsexualism and cross-dressing.
- Criminal History – Many private employers and some jurisdictions have policies or laws that prohibit any discrimination or harassment due to previous conviction records or arrest records.
- Smokers and Nonsmokers – Many states have laws against job harassment toward both smokers and nonsmokers.
- Age – Some federal courts have passed laws protecting against age discrimination and harassment.
- Disability – It is illegal to harass someone based on a physical disability that they have. Some states include obesity in this law.
- Veteran Status – Any derogatory comments towards a veteran at the workplace constitutes as job harassment. Some jurisdictions also have laws prohibiting discrimination that is based on an unfavorable discharge as well.
- Citizenship Status – A handful of states now have statues prohibiting harassing speech and discrimination based on a person's citizenship status.
What To Do If You Are Harassed On The Job
If you are experiencing job harassment of any sort it is important to tell the offender clearly that their attention is not wanted and that you do not appreciate their actions. Ignoring the behavior will encourage it and you cannot expect all people to know they are doing something wrong unless you tell them. Just because they should know that they are acting inappropriately does not mean that they do.
- Tell the person exactly what they are doing wrong by being very specific, blunt and straightforward. Some people don't get subtle hints.
- Demand that they discontinue the behavior immediately.
- Hold the harasser completely accountable for their actions. Don't feel sorry or make excuses for them and do not simply try to pretend like nothing has happened. Don't try to protect their feelings.
- Stand your ground but don't respond in an unprofessional way either. Do not allow anyone to manipulate you into backing down and letting it go.
- When you speak of their actions, do not smile or be timid about it stand with authority with your head up, shoulders back and make eye contact.
- Document the behavior and keep a log of every incident. If possible, find a witness that will speak up about what they have seen or heard.
- Make formal complaints beginning with the appropriate chain of command. If your business has a human resource department, that is where you will want to make your complaint.
- If the situation is not handled at work, consult with an attorney. Keep any consultations confidential and do not discuss your plans with other employees.