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What is Considered Harassment at Work?
(5 Common Types & Examples)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace harassment as any form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Examples of Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment may include (but is not limited to) offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

What Qualifies as a Hostile Work Environment?

The following behaviors create a hostile work environment if they're happening consistently or purposefully: harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, victimization, violence, and any other kinds of offensive or inappropriate behavior.

What is Gaslighting at Work?

The term “gaslighting" refers to psychological manipulation that causes a person to question their own beliefs, experiences, and sanity. While the concept is often used in the context of personal relationships, it can also apply in the workplace. In most cases, a boss's effort to gaslight an employee takes subtle forms that can leave workers feeling ridiculed, humiliated, uncertain, and insufficient.

What is Behavioral Harassment?

Examples of behavioral harassment include:

  • Inappropriate personal questions or comments
  • Belittling or patronizing comments or nicknames
  • Assault or other non-accidental physical contact
  • The display, sending, or sharing of offensive letters, publications, objects, images, or sounds

Is Gossiping a Form of Harassment?

If you find workplace gossip to be detrimental, have your HR manager speak to the individual. If an employee is purposefully sharing false information, it could be considered harassment, discrimination, retaliation, slander or defamation.

How Does HR Handle Harassment?

Your human resources department should clearly communicate to employees that harassment will not be tolerated. The HR manager may accomplish this by establishing a standardized complaint/grievance process, providing anti-harassment training to employees, and taking immediate action when an employee makes a complaint.

Related Article: Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

What Type of Behavior is NOT Considered Harassment in the Workplace?

Legitimate and reasonable management actions including actions taken to transfer demote, and/or discipline an employee (provided these actions are conducted in a reasonable way) are not examples of harassment in the workplace.

Related Article: What is a Right-to-Work State?

What to do if You are Harassed in the Workplace

If you are being harassed at work, go to your employer immediately. If you feel comfortable, you also should tell the harasser that you find their behavior problematic. You also can talk to your spouse, parents, another adult, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Find out if your company has a policy on harassment.

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