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Workplace Harassment FAQs

Whilst yelling is not in itself a form of workplace harassment, in certain circumstances yelling at someone could be classed as a form of harassment and can be taken as evidence in order to prove a legal case.

If someone is trying to get another person fired within the workplace, then this can be classed as harassment. If the actions taken by the person are severe enough to make the other person feel intimidated or humiliated, or there is no evidence to prove that they are unable to do their role, then this is harassment and it should be reported.

You may not think that being made to feel uncomfortable whilst you are at work can be seen as harassment. However, this is true. If you feel uncomfortable when you are at work, then ask yourself why you feel this way?

If it is because you are feeling offended, intimidated or humiliated, then it should be seen as harassment and you should report it to your HR department for them to investigate.

If you need to gather evidence of harassment in the workplace, then it is good to know that you are able to record someone without their permission. So long as you are an active part of the conversation.

If you feel that you are being harassed at work then the first port of call for you is likely to be the HR team.

You can speak to them directly, however, it is usually best to file a written report to them containing all the evidence that you have to prove your case of harassment. It is not recommended that you notify your supervisor if they are the one who is harassing you, or they have a close working relationship with the person who is harassing you. This could introduce some bias to the case and make it more difficult to be taken seriously.

HR should deal with your complaint seriously and that they take instant action on it. They will evaluate the documents for review, should there be any witnesses to the harassment, then these should be approached and interviews should take place.

The HR department should keep you informed throughout the process and ensure that you feel happy with how your complaint has been handled.

In order for a work environment to be considered as hostile the conduct of the supervisors or co-workers in the setting creating an environment that a reasonable person would find impacting on their ability to work.

You should feel able to complain about harassment in your workplace without fear of any retaliation. However, in some circumstances this can occur. Examples of retaliation to a compliant of harassment includes termination of a contract, failure to hire for a role, a demotion to your current role, a pay decrease or a decrease in the hours that you are asked to work.

In order to determine whether or not unlawful workplace harassment has occurred there are three main criteria’s that need to be considered.

  • Did the victim tolerate the harassment in order to obtain a job or keep their current job?
  • Was the harassment extensive enough to create a work environment that was hostile and/or intolerable for the victim?
  • Was the harassment a response to the filing of a complaint against the person in question?

If the harassment meets these criteria’s, then this means that it could be deemed as illegal and needs to be pursued legally.

Just as there are things that are considered to be harassment within the workplace, there are also times when actions and behaviours are not going to be classed as harassment. Some of the examples of this include a hug between friends, mutual flirtation, compliments towards colleagues, even those that are physical in their nature.

One of the most common forms of workplace harassment is psychological harassment. An example of psychological harassment is when someone within the workplace uses unwanted and unkind words towards another person.

It can also include hostile behaviours and actions as well as insulting or humiliating the person concerned.

The most common forms of workplace harassment are:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Disability harassment
  • Racial harassment
  • Power harassment

They can occur singularly or together in some circumstances.

It can be hard to know how best to prove harassment, after all, it can often feel that it is your word against the other person or people that are involved.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on the idea of pursuing a legal case for harassment in your workplace. In order to give yourself the best chance of it going your way, you are going to need to be able to prove the harassment happened.

There are three things that you should do in order to achieve this.

You want to establish a timeline of the harassment, if you cannot remember exact dates, then you should ensure that you estimate them as this will help with your case.

Once you have done this you will need to gather as much evidence as you can, this can come in a variety of forms, it could be recordings, pictures of what has been used to harass you if you have physical evidence.

One final thing that you need to do is to find a witness to the harassment who is willing to speak out. If you have this as a part of your case, then you are going to have a much stronger case to pursue.

As the name suggests, power harassment is when someone in the workplace uses their position of power in order to bully or harass someone who is a lower-ranking position than them.

Power harassment can vary in type and it can be something that happens alone or be combined with other forms of harassment too.

Some of the signs of power harassment in the workplace include physical attacks, psychological attacks, segregation, demeaning work assignments, intrusions into their personal life and also excessive work requests with threats of being fired or replaced should they not complete them.

Harassment at work can be something that is incredibly obvious, as well as being something that you may not instantly pick up on. Whether the signs are overt, or they are hidden as other things, harassment at work does happen and if you do pick up on the signs then you need to ensure that you take action.

Some of the main signs of harassment at work include:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs about that person
  • Name calling
  • Physical assaults
  • Threats to them
  • Intimidation
  • Mockery and Ridicule
  • Displaying offensive items or pictures
  • Work performance interference
  • Sexual advancements and unwanted sexual comments

The definition of being harassed is that someone that you work with, whether that is a boss or a colleague, is subjecting you to ongoing torment. This is not much unlike bullying that someone might experience whilst they are at school or another educational institution.

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