What Are the Types of Harassment?
There are a number of different types of harassment that people may experience while interacting with other people; some are illegal, and some are not. In this article, we will explain common types of workplace harassment and what behaviors they include.
Discriminatory harassment is harassment based upon the victim’s membership in a legally protected group. This includes race-based harassment or gender-based harassment. Because these categories are protected by law, discriminatory harassment is illegal. Here are some of the common types of discriminatory harassment.
Age harassment protects workers over the age of 40 from being discriminated against or harassed in the workplace. This includes being left out of projects or meetings, unfair criticism, teasing, and insults.
Disability harassment includes harassment for real disabilities as well as disabilities that a worker is perceived to have. If a worker is incorrectly assumed to have brain damage or a prosthetic limb and is harassed in relation to that disability, they can also claim disability harassment. This type of harassment includes not providing reasonable accommodation, insensitive jokes, slurs, and isolation, but patronizing behavior or singling someone out is also disability harassment.
Gender harassment may take the form of harassment or discrimination because of someone’s gender or gender-based insults and stereotypes. All genders can be victims of gender harassment, and actions can be perceived as gender harassment if it seems employees of different genders receive different expectations.
This type of harassment can take two forms. The first is general harassment and discrimination because of the person’s skin color or membership of a certain race. The second is harassment for other reasons but takes the form of racial slurs or insults. Racial harassment carries huge penalties and punitive damages.
Religious harassment can sometimes be tied to racial harassment, but it is more about the victim’s membership in a certain religion. Examples of religious harassment may be lack of reasonable accommodation for religious practices, intolerance towards traditions and customs, or teasing based on religious items or clothing. Rude questioning, insensitive jokes, attempts to convert, and degradation are also forms of religious harassment.
Sexual Orientation Harassment
This type of harassment can happen to someone of any sexual orientation. This may take the form of stereotypes, slurs, insults, insensitive jokes, or rude and invasive questioning.
Other Illegal Forms of Harassment
These types of harassment are illegal but not discriminatory in nature.
Retaliatory harassment is where someone is targeted because they exercised their legal rights. This may be because they filed a lawsuit, reported behavior to HR, or reported safety violations. Someone can experience retaliatory harassment for being a witness in a lawsuit as well.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual contact or sexual behavior. The type of behavior that counts as sexual harassment can range from sexual jokes or questions through to invading someone’s space and touching them in a sexual manner. People of all genders can experience sexual harassment.
A common form of sexual harassment is quid-pro-quo sexual harassment. This is where employment perks or employment is conditioned on the giving of sexual favors or silence about the sexual harassment. For example, a manger makes a comment to their employee that suggests they would consider not firing them if they had sexual intercourse with the manager. This type of sexual harassment involves coercion or blackmail.
Third Party Harassment
This type of harassment isn’t done by people within the organization, but other people who interact with employees. It includes vendors and customers. Third party harassment is common in customer-facing roles like telemarketers, waitstaff, and cashiers. An employer can still be held accountable for third-party harassment as they are expected to protect their staff.
Power harassment works on an imbalance of power that makes the lower-ranked employee feel like their job or role could be in danger if they do not comply with the harassment. Promotions may be held over their heads or they may be threatened with being assigned the worst hours or tasks. Types of power harassment could be verbal harassment, unreasonable demands, overstepping professional boundaries, or even insults.
Employers have a duty to ensure their online communication services are not being used for harassment. Online harassment includes behaviors like spreading gossip, harassment, or humiliation through any online channels like work chat, social media, emails, etc.
Physical harassment in the workplace includes behaviors that would be considered assault or battery as well as threats of physical harm and physical intimidation.
“Legal” Types of Harassment
The following types of harassment are not illegal but extremely harmful. Employers should instruct HR to resolve disputes involving these types of harassment as they may affect the morale of the victim and anyone who witnesses the harassment.
Psychological harassment is the practice of making someone miserable or like they are undeserving of human decency. It can include behaviors such as isolating the victim, belittling them, ignoring them, etc. It can be very harmful to the victim’s overall wellbeing.
This type of harassment is another term for bullying. It involves personal attacks on a victim that is not discriminatory. Victims of personal harassment are usually ostracized and criticized in a mean-spirited manner, often in front of people to add to the humiliation.
Verbal harassment can range from unpleasantness through to insults and cruel jokes. While extremely rude and toxic, verbal harassment is not illegal unless it crosses into discrimination.