Harassment of any kind hurts the individuals involved as well as the organization where it occurs. A harassing environment reduces collaboration, communication and effectiveness. All employers should work to maintain a positive, supportive and diverse work and learning environment. In compliance with federal laws and support of policy, all employers should actively seek to prevent and stop all types of harassment.
Harassment is a form of discrimination. Discrimination is the unjust treatment of an individual based on a group, class or category to which a person belongs. Harassment is defined as any type of unwelcome behavior that creates an intimidating environment. This behavior can range from making someone feel uncomfortable to being physically or psychologically attacked. While some harassing behaviors are intentional and obvious, other times, harassment is subtle or unintentional.
There are many types of harassment that could occur in the workplace. Listed below are just a few types of harassment that you need to be aware of and recognize:
Employees have the right to perform their duties in an atmosphere that is free of harassment and discrimination. The key to preventing harassment is to maintain a culture of respect, professionalism and civility with an appreciation for diversity where everyone can excel. This guide will primarily focus on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment. However, if you see or hear about any type of harassment, you have a responsibility to interrupt or inquire about the behavior and seek the assistance of your HR department.
Supervisors have the responsibility to maintain a positive, respectful and supportive work environment for your team. You should understand and comply with all harassment laws and
policies. You should educate your employees about harassment and harassment prevention and should not tolerate any behavior that is perceived as harassing by your employees. You must respond promptly and appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. Always contact your HR department with questions about harassment.
Sexual harassment is one of the most common types of workplace harassment. Sexual harassment occurs when one person or a group of people display unwanted sexual, verbal, or physical behaviors toward another person. Both men and women can be sexually harassed by either gender, and employees can be harassed by individuals that are not employees of your organization.
Federal law and your organization’s policy define two main types of sexual harassment:
Gender-Based Harassment includes harassment based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.
Sexual Harassment Examples
Depending on the circumstances, sexual harassment may include:
Note about Hostile Environment harassment: In general, simple teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents are not usually considered harassment, however if the behavior is perceived to be offensive or becomes frequent or severe it could create a hostile work environment.
Prevent Sexual Harassment
Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment
prevention starts with building positive relationships with your employees and coworkers. Be sure to implement, model and maintain a supportive, inclusive and harassment free working environment in your department.
Employees can help prevent harassment by:
Encourage your employees to do the following:
If an employee feels that they are being harassed, they have the right to confront the individual to let them know that the behavior is offensive and unacceptable. If the harassment continues they should contact your HR department to address the situation.
Make sure that your employees know they can report incidences to you or HR without fear of retaliation.
Address Sexual Harassment
Supervisors have the responsibility to respond quickly to complaints of harassment. You can be held personally responsible if you do not respond appropriately to complaints of harassment. If you observe an employee interaction and suspect an employee is being harassed, interrupt the situation immediately and contact HR to assist you with the next steps to take.
It is important that you make your employees aware of the avenues available to them to report sexual harassment. Make sure your employees know that if they come to you with concerns or complaints about sexual harassment that you are obligated to contact HR.
If your employee comes to you with a sexual harassment complaint, immediately refer them to HR. HR will collaborate, as necessary, to investigate sexual harassment complaints.
If an employee does report allegations of harassment to you, assure your employee that he or she took appropriate action in reporting the incident and is guaranteed protection against retaliation. Ask your employee to contact HR immediately if they feel that they are the victim of
This is for educational purposes only and is not intended as an exhaustive discussion of harassment and discrimination and the laws that prevent these practices. In addition, since each situation can vary and the applicability of federal and state laws is based on facts and circumstances, the applicability of laws and policies in your situation may vary. Questions about specific situations should be directed to your legal counsel.
Olympus clients may contact Enquiron at (877) 568.6655.