The Various Types Of Harassment In The Workplace

The Various Types Of Harassment In The Workplace

If you are harassed at work, it can make it much harder for you to be able to do your job. Workplace harassment is illegal in most cases, and you have the right to be protected against unwanted touching, certain types of comments and other problematic behaviors. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler may help you if you have experienced illegal workplace harassment.

Two forms of workplace harassment

There are two main categories of prohibited workplace harassment that are illegal under both state and federal law. These include quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person who is in a position of authority tenders job-related benefits on an employee’s acceptance of unwanted sexual advances. Hostile work environment harassment occurs when harassment from anyone is severe enough that a reasonable person would be fearful or intimidated at work. Both types of harassment may be verbal, nonverbal or physical and may include a range of behaviors, including jokes, touching, winking and others.

Quid pro quo harassment

In Latin, quid pro quo means something for something. In the employment context, it means that you are offered some employment benefit based on your accepting unwanted behavior from a supervisor. It can also occur when your employer retaliates against you because you rejected his or her advances.

In addition to sexual quid pro quo harassment, it can also be nonsexual. This might include such things as mandating the participation in a certain religion to keep your job or being demoted for refusing to convert.

Hostile work environment harassment

When incidents of harassment have become so pervasive that your workplace has an uncomfortable atmosphere that makes it difficult for you to complete your job, that is hostile work environment harassment. With this type of harassment, you do not have to be the target. It can also come from anyone, including clients, customers, contractors, co-workers and supervisors.

Verbal harassment

Verbal harassment occurs when words are used to put down others or to show hostility. It may include using racist or sexist terms, telling vulgar jokes, making inappropriate remarks, repeatedly making requests for sexual favors or promoting stereotypes. Generally, it must take multiple incidents for it to constitute harassment, or it must be an extreme single incident.

Nonverbal harassment

Nonverbal harassment occurs when images, written material or gestures are used in order to offend or intimidate others. This may include sending or displaying inappropriate photos, videos or emails, making sexually suggestive gestures or expressions, using crude hand gestures, giving unwanted gifts or making unwanted visits outside of work.

Physical harassment

When someone is physically harassed, he or she may be deliberately pushed or bumped. It may also include blocking another person’s path in order to intimidate him or her without physical contact.

Handling workplace harassment

If you have been harassed, your first step is to tell your harasser to stop what he or she is doing. If the harassment continues, then you should talk to your human resources department. You may file a complaint with the EEOC if your internal efforts do not work. An employment law attorney with Swartz Swidler may assist you with gathering the evidence to support your complaint. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.