How to Recognize & Report Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment runs the gamut from bullying to discrimination. It’s unfortunately quite common, but it is also against the law. Here’s how to identify harassment in the workplace and what you need to do if you see it.

Types of Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment comes in many forms. These include:

  • This includes everything from inappropriate jokes to demeaning comments. Over time, it can wear down the victim’s mental health. Remember: spirited discussion is a good thing in the workplace, but personal attacks are not.
  • This type of harassment is designed to undermine the victim and damage their self-esteem. It includes withholding information, taking credit for the victim’s accomplishments, setting unreasonable deadlines, and making demands that are impossible to meet.
  • Cyberbullying can involve posting threats or inappropriate comments, making false allegations online, or even creating a website designed to mock the victim.
  • This can include everything from unwanted touching to physical assault.
  • Sexual harassment may be specifically targeted at the victim, such as inappropriate comments on their appearance. Or it might take the form of a hostile work environment, such as generalized comments about women or gay people.

Is It Harassment?

Workplace harassment may be subtle and tough to identify. It’s not always overt, but may take the form of subtle intimidation or interference with job performance. It can occur not only between a supervisor and an employee, but also between coworkers or even people from different departments. There isn’t always a targeted victim. Instead, it could be an overall offensive environment.

How to Report Workplace Harassment

Ultimately, your company’s human resources (HR) department is best equipped to handle potential workplace harassment complaints. They are familiar with the relevant laws and equipped to manage these delicate situations. You should also let your immediate supervisor know, unless that person is involved in the harassment. Stay calm and stick to the facts. You might be (justifiably) angry, but try to avoid sweeping statements. Provide as much evidence as you can, such as text messages or eyewitness reports.

If you don’t get a satisfactory resolution from HR, consider making a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They have the skills and resources to make an impartial investigation.

Workplace harassment is serious and illegal, and it is your job as a manager to make sure it stops. Whether you or one of your team members is the victim, it’s up to you to report the situation to HR and to follow up as necessary.

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