How to Recognize and Respond to Workplace Harassment

How to recognize and respond to workplace harassment

Identifying and Addressing Workplace Harassment

The need to create a harassment-free work environment is something companies have strived to achieve for many years. Almost every workplace big or small has experienced some form of harassment. Everyone needs to understand what it is and how to avoid it. If you can identify the type of harassment in workplace, then you can take steps to prevent it from happening altogether. That way, you create a positive working environment for all the employees.

Understanding workplace harassment

Workplace harassment encompasses offensive behavior, such as slurs, jokes, threats, insults, and physical assaults, which hinder work performance. The most common forms are psychological and verbal, with sexual and physical harassment being more severe. It is important to remember that all types of workplace harassment are illegal and detrimental to both the company and employee productivity. Failure to address harassment can lead to legal consequences for the organization. It is crucial to be aware of workplace harassment and take action by reporting incidents. Laws in every country provide strong protection for employees filing complaints against harassment.

Type of harassment in the workplace

Workplace harassment examples are numerous and take many forms. One instance of harassment may not be the same as the other. Every employee should know about the type of harassment in workplace and how it can manifest. Knowing helps you identify it and take the steps to prevent it from happening again.

Verbal harassment

This type of harassment in workplace can be an ongoing one that endangers your mental health and career. Verbal harassment consists of rude gestures, derogatory remarks, and needless critique. The harassment usually involves slurs, insults, pointless jokes, and insensitive comments.

Also, verbal harassment is hard to recognize thanks to it being a non-physical form of violence. That makes it a grey area. It often results in high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and a negative psychological outlook.

Psychological harassment

This is another of the many workplace harassment examples. It is similar to verbal harassment, however, it differentiates itself through several methods. Psychological harassment is more covert and consists of steps like gaslighting or withholding information.

The purpose of psychological harassment is to mentally destroy the victim. Here, the harasser chips away at the victim’s self-esteem and undermines them in all they do.

Digital harassment

This type of harassment in workplace may happen online, but it is just as deadly as the others. It is a relatively new type of harassment and it takes place on many digital platforms. Here, the attackers make threats or write demeaning comments on social media. Typically, the attackers create a different persona and use that profile to attack other people online through various means.

Social media is now a part of life. Thanks to the discussion of taboo topics becoming more acceptable, it is easy for anyone to digitally attack another. The anonymity of an internet-connected device ensures that attackers are seldom punished for what they’ve done.

Physical harassment

Physical harassment is among the many workplace harassment examples that vary to great degrees. This type of harassment in workplace covers everything from unwanted gestures, touching an employee’s clothing to physical assault, threats of violence and damage to personal property.

It is a type of harassment in workplace that is hard to identify thanks to the varying degrees. Often, some forms of physical harassment are downplayed as a joke if no physical harm was done. However, if it escalates and becomes violent, employees can call the authorities to intervene in the situation.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a serious offense and is the most common type of harassment in workplace. More than a quarter of working females have had this happen to them. Also, it is a crime not exclusive to women as anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual harassment.

Examples of sexual harassment include unwanted sexual advances, sexual jokes, sending sexual messages, or asking for sexual favors in return for a job promotion. Though the definition is very straightforward, it is not obvious to recognize. The varying degrees of sexual harassment make it easy for perpetrators to get away with their actions. Also, many victims of physical harassment do not want to draw attention and keep it to themselves. However, if silence results in creating a hostile work environment, the employee must report it.

Workplace Harassment: A Personal Story

Having spent more than a decade in the tech industry, I’ve encountered my fair share of workplace harassment. It’s a pervasive issue that affects individuals regardless of their gender, race, or age.

I can vividly recall the first time I experienced harassment. As a new employee, I was assigned to a project alongside a group of older male colleagues. They consistently made inappropriate comments about my body, attire, and intelligence. They also targeted my race and ethnicity with hurtful remarks.

Feeling incredibly uncomfortable, I found myself at a loss for what to do. Being new to the company, I was hesitant to make waves and believed that ignoring the situation would make it disappear. Unfortunately, the harassment persisted, taking a toll on my mental well-being. Constant stress and anxiety accompanied me each day, and I grew to dread going to work.

Eventually, I reached a breaking point. Gathering my courage, I approached my manager and opened up about the ongoing harassment. I had concerns that my complaint would result in blackmail or ridicule being directed towards me. To my relief, he was genuinely shocked and appalled by what I shared. Without delay, he took immediate action, confronting the harassers and making it clear that their behavior was unacceptable.

As a result, the harassment ceased, granting me a newfound sense of peace and enjoyment in my job. However, I understand that my experience is not an isolated incident. Workplace harassment remains a prevalent issue that demands attention. If you find yourself being harassed at work, I implore you not to be afraid to speak up. Remember, you are not alone, and there are people who can support you. Workplace Harassment: A Personal Story

Tips for Dealing with Workplace Harassment

If you are experiencing workplace harassment, there are a few things you can do to deal with the situation:

  • Document the harassment: This means keeping a record of the dates, times, and details of the incidents. This will be helpful if you decide to file a complaint. Talk to the harasser. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can try talking to the person who is harassing you. Explain that their behavior is unacceptable and that you want it to stop.
  • Report the harassment to your manager or HR department: This is the best way to ensure that the harassment will stop. Your manager or HR department will be able to investigate the situation and take appropriate action.
  • File a complaint outside organisation: If the harassment does not stop after you have reported it, a lawyer can help an employee file a complaint about sexual harassment with the NCW, the NHRC, or the police.
  • It is important to remember that you are not alone: Workplace harassment is a serious problem, but there are people who can help you. If you are experiencing harassment, please don’t hesitate to speak up.


Workplace harassment was widespread in the early years, but not so much today. Every day, steps are taken around the world to stop workplace harassment altogether. If we want to have a safe and productive work environment, then we all must work together to help that cause. That way, everyone benefits.