How to handle harassment at work

The moment anybody mentions ‘harassment at workplace’, the first thing that comes to mind is sexual offense. But that’s not all: Employees can be harassed in a variety of ways on the job. Find out how to deal with them

It is 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 know how to handle it if it happens to you, or even better, help you prevent it from happening in the first place.

Types of harassment

Many types of harassment can occur on the job. Workplace harassment, whether verbal or physical, based on sex, religion, or race, is unlawful and a form of discrimination. The definition of harassment can vary from state to state. A Florida court deemed “fat jokes” offensive and in Wisconsin and New York, it is illegal to harass employees based on their criminal record. The issue of defining harassment can be a tricky subject.

Being sexually offensive

Sexual harassment in the workplace includes any uninvited comments, conduct, or behavior regarding sex, gender, or sexual orientation. It also qualifies as a form of discrimination.

Sexual harassment does not have to occur between co-workers of the opposite sex. It is also not limited to touching or spoken words. Obscene ../images and videos, emails and even staring in a suggestive manner can be deemed offensive.

Non-sexual intimidation

Harassment in the workplace can also consist of other actions regarding religion, race, age, gender, or skin color. Actions involving these subject matter areas qualify as harassment if they interfere with an employee’s success or create a hostile work environment. Non-sexual harassment can include offensive language regarding a person’s physical or mental disabilities or differences as well. Pointing out or continually alluding that someone’s too fat, too old, or too stupid can be deemed as harassment.

How to handle aggression

To report any case or incident, getting as many facts ready as possible is important. during the incident. If it was harassment via an online medium, there are snapshots that can be shared. Time and place of the incident are also critical to the complaint. Then take your complaint to your internal sexual harassment committee/HR/Management and share it. They may have initial queries for you, so remember to answer those. You should also be aware of the next course of action from their end.

Handling illegal or inappropriate interview questions

Did you know that an interviewer cannot legally ask you certain questions when you are applying for a job? Questions about race, gender, religion and other personal aspects of your life are prohibited federal laws. To protect yourself from harassing questions, you need to understand these illegal or inappropriate inquiries while searching for a job. Certain questions may not only be against the law but can be a key sign that the company does not make a good fit for you. 

The aftermath: How to resign

Even if you are being harassed, it is important to resign as professionally as you can from your job. Plan your resignation carefully because it could have legal consequences if you file a harassment claim. You need to give adequate notice to your employer, write a formal resignation letter and be prepared to move on prior to submitting your resignation. With these steps in place, you can set yourself up for success and make it easier move beyond this troubling time into a new and better work environment.

How to handle a lay-off

You might find yourself the subject of a lay-off after filing a claim. The best way to survive a layoff involves first, finding out about any benefits to which you are entitled, by speaking with your employer’s human resources department. You should also be informed about your employee rights, during a layoff, so you know what you should expect when you lose your job. Even if you still have your job, it makes sense to have a plan in place because, as too many people know, job security is not ever a sure thing.

What to do when you are fired

Did your harassment claim lead you to be fired from your job? It can be very stressful, and you probably have a lot of questions about what you can or should do next. First of all, understand your employee rights when an employer fires you, or you think you will be let go. If the company wrongfully discharges you, you will need to take certain steps to find out what remedies or recourse may be available to you as well.