Human Resources Insights
Harassment in the Workplace
In cases of sexual and other forms of harassment, there are certain factors that must be present in order for workplace harassment to be present. First, the conduct must be unwelcome and offensive to the employee. Second, the employee must voice his or her objection to the behavior, allowing the offensive individual or persons to correct their inappropriate workplace behaviors. Last, the conduct must be of a nature that has an impact on the ability of the employee to perform his or her job duties.
Workplace harassment is any type of unwelcome behavior toward another employee that leads to discomfort or difficulty in performing assigned tasks. Hostile work environment causes the employee to feel that he or she is being subjected to behaviors that are intentionally inappropriate and/or targeted at them because of their sex, orientation, or other protected class. Harassment may be based on such factors as race, gender, culture, age, sexual orientation, or religious preference.
Here are some examples of both types of workplace harassment:
Quid Pro Quo harassment a mandatory exchange or Hostile Work Environment
• getting or keeping a job if you agree to sexual relations
• offensive jokes, comments, slurs
• required sex to obtain a promotion, desired shift or vacation request
• lude pictures, calendars, drawings
• taunting, teasing, hazing, etc.
In recent years, more employers have put in place specific policies for employees to report and companies to evaluate situations involving workplace harassment. The goal of the reporting is to identify unacceptable behaviors or scenarios, and correct these matters so that everyone will feel more comfortable in the workplace.
However, some internal practices within the organization can lead to both the ignoring of legitimate complaints as well as make it easy for people to be unjustly accused of harassing another employee. Some progressive employers make use of annual, focused training on this topic to assist supervisors with identifying and then dealing with workplace harassment. The training often involves ensuring that everyone will understand more about different cultures and other characteristics that are relevant to their workforce. By eliminating myths and misconceptions about issues such as age, gender, orientation, and race, the goal is that team members will become more educated and thus respectful of others, and ultimately less likely to engage in conduct that will be offensive to a coworker.
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