Understanding Harassment in the Workplace- PART I


Pursuing your career, requires you to be patient and persistent. Even if you love what you do, sometimes your job and your daily tasks will challenge you every once and a while, just to improve your skills and make you work better. It is true also that you will be facing obstacles and problem that you need and should be able to deal with. Nevertheless, you need to be careful because sometimes these problems should not happen to you. In other words, they are not in the nature of your job, which means that maybe your supervisor or co-workers are causing them and harassing you. Jobzella is offering you the top kinds of harassment that you might face at work and how you can identify them.

But before we get there, let’s first explain what workplace harassment means. Workplace harassment happens when an employee experiences a continuous harmful mistreatment from his/ her manager or from the other employees at the workplace. It is also known as workplace bullying and it takes several forms including: verbal, nonverbal, social, physical, psychological abuse and humiliation. Most of the time, the employee doesn’t know that he/ she is being abused, and more importantly, they don’t know that they can be compensated and their abusers get punished, according to the law. Here are the most common types of workplace harassment and the signs that you need to pay attention to, as an employee or a manager, to protect yourself and the others.

  1. Verbal Harassment:

It is when the harassment takes the form of words. This includes calling you bad names, or making fun of you, as an employee, the way you are dressed, how you work, or even your personality. It also includes spreading rumors about you, getting yelled at in front of your coworkers, or if you are always criticized and humiliated at work.

  1. Nonverbal Harassment:

This doesn’t involve the use of words or the use of physical power. It might be making offensive signs or gestures. It also includes some facial expressions and body language that is known by the community to be humiliating, aggressive, degrading or insulting.

  1. Physical Harassment:

This kind takes two main ways: either using own physical power, or other harmful equipment. This means punching, hitting, tripping, pushing, or grabbing you, the employee, at the workplace. On the other hand, it can be threatening and harming you using a knife, gun, stick, or even desk tools like pens and paper clips. In the end, any of these practices cause pain and harm to the victim.

  1. Psychological Harassment:

This kind of harassment has a quite deeper effect than the previous ones because it affects your perception of yourself and might make you question your worth. It affects your performance and quality of work, but more importantly, it has bad consequences on your social and personal life. Such practices include insulting you in front of your coworkers or even your boss, which makes you disrespected. It might also happen when almost everyone in your workplace gang on you, or exclude you from important meetings and decision making processes, or even stop you from doing and finishing projects and activities that are related to your work. In addition, it can happen when you are given worthless or small tasks at work that are not helping you grow in your career, and are decreasing your importance at work. On the other side, if you are given more workload, or being assigned to many projects at once, so it is stressing you out and stopping you from sleeping, this is also psychological harassment. You can also be intimidated by your manager or other co-workers, or threatened to be fired or get salary reduction, if you didn’t obey your boss, for example, to do other jobs that are not related to your work. Although this type might have the worst impact on you, it is the most unknown type because its practices aren’t always clear and are usually hidden.

  1. Sexual Harassment:

It is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, which means an abusive and offensive treatment that an employee gets because of his sex or gender. It has two main forms:

– Quid Pro Quo (This for that) Harassment:

This is means when an employee is forced to do unwelcome favors or practices in return of rewards. In other words, in order for an employee to get promoted, get a raise, a vacation, or get assigned for higher project, for example, it depends on his willingness to accept granting sexual favors.

– Hostile Work Environment:

This happens when an unwelcome sexual mistreatment is conducted by the manager, co-worker or even a costumer, towards an employee, and this abuse affects the employee work performance and is offensive and humiliating. This comes in three different forms:

  1. Verbal: like saying sexual jokes or comments, or commenting on the employee’s own personal life and physical appearance.
  2. Non verbal: like making offensive signs, gestures, or facial expressions.
  3. Physical: like unnecessary touching, blocking person’s movement, disrespecting one’s personal space or engaging in hostile physical conduct.

Workplace harassment is one of the biggest and most abusive problems an employee can face at his/ her work. It is crucial for an employee to pay attention to the workplace environment and be aware and observant to the practices around him. Therefore, it is necessary for every company or workplace to have a clear and written Code of Conduct that defines treatments and how to deal with everyone in the workplace, and make sure that all employees know it. Moreover, every employee must carefully read and understand this code of conduct as well as his contract with the company, so he would know how to act in the workplace, and to report in case of problems or violations.

Do you feel you are getting harassed at work? Colleagues or bosses making your life harder? Tell your stories and talk to us. We promise complete anonymity. Jobzella will offer advice and help when you reach out to us at Jobzella, FacebookTwitter, Instagram,YouTube and Pinterest.

This post is also available in: Arabic

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