Workplace harassment affects Americans on a daily basis. Sexual harassment often receives the most attention, but there are other forms of harassment that can cause equal offense in the workplace. These other forms include harassment based upon: ethnic or racial, age, disability, or religious affiliation. Harassment does damage to both employees and the company. When an employee is uncomfortable or suffering hardship, production can decrease, and the company suffers overall. Harassment also builds up resentment and bitterness between employees. With the rise of workplace violence, management should be eager to prevent any ill will between workers.
This can include jokes against a fellow employee for being “young and stupid.” Or for older employees, teasing about being “as old as dirt” can be hurtful. Jokes of Catholic priests or Rabbis can be offensive to those practicing the respective faiths. Jokes that play upon stereotypes are forms of harassment. Harassment is not your supervisor being tough on you for failing to meet expressed expectations unless he or she is treating you differently than others who have also failed to meet expectations.
These other forms of harassment are often more difficult to prove. If a person feels harassed and confides in a supervisor, they may ultimately be placed in a “he said/she said” situation where there may be no return. If the harassing individual is a particular favorite of management it can cost the accusing employee their position or job.
For this reason, an employee facing this form of confrontation should consider finding proof before going to any higher-up. There are a variety of tools and methods available to catch the harasser in the act. Voice recorders can be carried in pockets or purses. Hidden cameras can be held on ties or worn in jackets.
Another reason these forms of harassment are as common as they are may be simple ignorance. Perhaps the employee or employees in the workplace aren’t aware that they are truly offensive. Oftentimes they may believe they’re just joking and genuinely don’t know how hurtful they are.
There are a variety of training programs available that teach sensitivity to ethnic, cultural, and religious differences if management wishes to begin an awareness program. This can eliminate many future claims of workplace harassment.
A calm workplace environment can be a beneficial addition to any company. If your HR department or supervisor does not deal with the issue head on especially if you have evidence consult an attorney who specializes in workplace harassment.