Five Types Of Workplace Harassment


Harassment in the workplace is a serious offence, one which the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 72,675 complaints of during the 2019 fiscal year alone. Not all forms of harassment are easy to identify from an employee’s perspective, however, so to help arm yourself with knowledge on the topic, read ahead and learn about five of the most pervasive forms of harassment in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment

A type of harassment most of us are familiar with is sexual harassment. What you may not know off the bat, though, is that sexual harassment can be further broken down into two distinct forms:

Quid Pro Quo — Where an employer attempts to trade sexual services for promises of gain (like a promotion) or as a way to avoid loss (demotion or firing).

Hostile Work Environment — Where the work environment creates an intimidating atmosphere for the victim, and may also extend to offensive gender-based remarks and verbal attacks confirms

Unwanted sexual advances, conduct, and behavior are unlawful, and if you believe you have suffered from sexual harassment, it’s advisable that you speak with an attorney about how to proceed.

Discriminatory Harassment

There’s some overlap here with sexual harassment, as discriminatory harassment can also include targeting that is gender based, but is also more broad than just that, as discriminatory harassment may also include targeting based on race, religion, disability, and even age.

In other words, if someone at the workplace is harassing you because, at least in part, you are a member of a protected class, that is discriminatory harassment, and it should be reported notes DePaolo & Zadeikis.

Physical Harassment

Physical harassment is more widely known by its common name — workplace violence. This includes physical threats and attacks, and at the more extreme end, can veer into the territory of assault. Though sometimes the line between playful and unacceptable may be blurred, physical harassment should always be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Personal Harassment

This form of harassment may not always be illegal (since it isn’t based on being part of a protected class), but it’s damaging all the same. It includes overly critical remarks, intimidation, personal humiliation, offensive jokes/inappropriate comments, and anything else that singles out an employee to make the workplace more hostile for.

Retaliatory Harassment

Sometimes overlooked, retaliatory harassment occurs when one employee uses harassment as a form of revenge against another. A clear cut example would be when an employee files a complaint about another, and the subject of the complaint launches a campaign of harassment against the filer as an effort to exact vengeance and deter subsequent complaints against themselves.