Workplace harassment refers to any repeated, intentional behavior directed at an employee that can be sexual or non-sexual, verbal or physical or even psychological. Workplace Harassment is a sensitive topic that is gaining visibility due to the impact it has on overall organizational culture as well as employee well-being. It is the single most important reason for work-related stress.
All types of workplace harassment are harmful and illegal and it will definitely affect one’s productivity, comfort and safety at work. Sexual harassment garners most of the attention. It’s important to understand harassment in the workplace because it can affect you and impact your career in different ways. Knowing what constitutes harassment can help you spot it and handle it if it happens to you, or even better, help you prevent it from happening in the first place. This includes recognizing what qualifies as harassment, how to file a harassment claim.
You may have observed that many employees don’t want to come in the limelight and they don’t want to file a formal complaint. Perhaps they don’t want to cause trouble, they don’t trust their company to take action, or they fear reprisals from the harasser or coworkers. But it’s very important to report workplace harassment to your HR department. If you don’t report the case, the company won’t even come to know about it. And, you may be unable to hold the company legally responsible for the harassment if you don’t follow its reporting procedures.
Should We Really Report Harassment?
Whether or not you report harassment may determine whether you can hold your company responsible for it. A rule for employer liability for sexual harassment has been already created by Supreme Court. If you are being harassed by your boss like changes your job status, such as getting fired, demoted, reassigned, or denied a salary hike — then the company will be liable regardless of whether you report it.
However, the rules are different if you suffer an intangible employment action. For example, perhaps you are in such a work environment where your coworkers tell nasty jokes and post pornography. In this situation, your company won’t be responsible for harassment if:
- The employer used reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassment, and
- You unreasonably failed to take advantage of opportunities the employer offer to prevent or correct the harassment — for example, by filing to make a complaint.
How to Report Harassment?
If you are being harassed at work because of your sex, race, or other protected characteristic, you should report it. Check your company’s employee handbook to find out whether there’s a policy on harassment. If so, follow the policy’s guidelines on reporting misconduct. It’s the responsibility of HR departments to help employees, especially those in critical situations where they feel uncomfortable or in danger. A lack of physical evidence should not deter a victim from filing a complaint, and, in fact, most grievances or complaints lack physical evidence.
Its mandate for every company to have policies in place and educate employees on workplace harassment. However, harassment can still occur and should be recognized and dealt with properly. Protect yourself and your career by learning about the various types of harassment, your rights, and the proper process for handling an occurrence.