That Million Dollar Lawsuit- How to Prevent Workplace Harassment




Workplace harassment is one of the leading causes of stress and lack of employee productivity. It can go undetected and has the potential to ruin all your efforts to maintain a healthy working environment. Most of the times HR fails to identify these problems due to their discreet and sensitive nature and the victims leaves the organization without reporting them. If not confronted, it will certainly lead to a high turnover rate, stress in the workplace and million-dollar lawsuits.

This article will guide you on how to identify and prevent all the different types of workplace harassment. Harassment can take many different forms and it can be hard to draw a line between ‘candid behavior’ and straight up harassment.

Given below are different types of workplace harassment and ways to identify them:

1. Workplace Violence

Violence can be classified as different types of physical gestures intended to cause harm to a person or his property. It also includes verbal threats and warnings to cause it outside the workplace.

What kind of behavior classifies as violence in the workplace?

  • Physically hitting someone to cause harm.
  • Threatening to cause physical harm outside the workplace.
  • Damage to someone’s personal property or belongings.

2. Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the most unethical and unlawful acts that occur in the workplace. It translates to the irrational bias between two different niches. It can be about race, gender, age, religion, color, etc. It has been around for quite a long time, and even though we have evolved to frown upon and fight it with the lawsuits, it’s sad to witness that it’s still taking place.

Different types of discrimination:

  • Racial
  • Gender
  • Religious
  • Age
  • Country

What kind of behavior classifies as Discrimination in the workplace?

  • Racist jokes
  • Undermining someone’s religion
  • Stereotypes towards the country of origin
  • Offensive jokes towards someone’s age, religion or country of origin
  • Discrediting someone’s age group

3. Workplace Bullying

Bullying is a kind of harassment that isn't based on any particular niche. It’s all about preying on the week. But in reality, it’s the perpetrator that’s the week one, not the victim. It’s a result of emotional distress, insecurities, and lack of empathy that leads to this kind of behavior. It is not completely illegal but severely harms the workplace culture. An organization should always be on the lookout for this kind of behavior in its work in order to protect its employees.

What kind of behavior classifies as bullying?

  • Harsh criticism
  • Intimidation
  • Physical Harm
  • Forced hard work.

4. Workplace Cyberbullying

Online anonymity has caused people to become cyber brave. This invites reckless behavior from some individuals who think they cannot be blamed for the way they behave online. There are no strict laws against cyberbullying yet, but it can severely harm the victim's mental health.

What kind of behavior classifies as cyberbullying?

  • Harassing comments on someone’s pictures
  • Spreading false rumors online
  • Threatening emails or messages

5. Workplace Mental Harassment

Mental harassment is an attack at a person’s psychological well-being. It’s a bunch of acts, that can cause depression, anxiety, and ultimately physical harm to a person when performed regularly over a long period. Furthermore, it does not involve any physical acts from the perpetrator, so it can be hard to assign blame.

What kind of behavior classifies as mental harassment?

  • Threatening letters
  • Isolating someone’s presence
  • Undermining someone’s background
  • Stealing or causing harm to someone’s belongings
  • False complaints against a person
  • Spreading misleading rumors
  • Embarrassing someone in front of others
  • Sharing private pictures

6. Abuse of Power in the Workplace

Job security has always been an issue with employees and many times people in higher power take advantage of this situation. This is the kind of harassment that a superior inflicts on his/her subordinates by abusing the power of his/her position for personal gain. This behavior is very common in the Public sector and the film industry.

What kind of behavior classifies as Abuse of power?

  • Unethical favors in return of a deserving position
  • Threatening to fire someone if the person isn’t comfortable with the bad behavior
  • Holding someone’s promotion
  • Taking Bribes

7. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This is one of the biggest concerns in the modern world. Women are much more prone to this kind of harassment than men. However, it’s known to go both ways. It involves inappropriate sexual gestures inflicted on a person without his/her consent. It often goes in hand with abuse of power.

The recent backlash in Hollywood has attracted global attention. It all started with the outburst of sexual misconducts allegations against Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company LLC (An American independent film studio). The New Yorker reported that the film producer has been accused by dozens of women for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse over a period of 30 years. Strict actions were taken against Weinstein and it gave many victims a voice. Soon after these victims of sexual harassment started opening up and many big names were dragged through the mud. The #MeToo movement as they call it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

What kind of behavior classifies as sexual harassment?

  • Unwanted sexual gestures
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Demanding unethical sexual favors
  • Sharing inappropriate sexual pictures of someone

Given below are some ways you could stop and prevent workplace harassment:

1. Anti-harassment policy

Implement a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and encourage employees to come forward to report misconduct –even if members of the top management are involved. Employees at all levels should have confidence that they can report workplace harassment without any fear. The policy should have multiple avenues for reporting, so employees can go to their manager, human resources, or other trusted company leaders when problems arise. Also, Implement an anonymous reporting software YourSafeHub to encourage reporting by employees who may be uncomfortable making a complaint directly.

2. Implement training and awareness

Educate and train all managers and employees about sexual harassment. Remind them that they are not alone in this, and make sure that consequences of committing such acts are properly understood. If needed, provide training in multiple short sessions to accommodate the busy schedules of top management. Top-level Management has tremendous potential to influence the company’s culture and their participation in training will send a message that the company and its leaders are serious about harassment issues.

The people in charge of managing employees should behave impeccably in all workplace situations. Furthermore, they must be skilled in acknowledging when harassment occurs and clarifying that such behavior can’t be tolerated under any circumstances.

3. Anonymous Reporting for Employees

Take all complaints seriously, regardless of the position of those involved. Try to maintain discreetness, and thoroughly investigate and address the issues raised in the complaint. If the investigation proves that the allegations are legit, take immediate action to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Employees often fear persecution for voicing their concerns. Implement YourSafeHub in your organization for reporting purposes. It's a secure communication channel that protects your employees with the power of anonymity.