Everyone has the power to stop harassment in the workplace. Even if it hasn’t happened to you directly, it’s likely happened to someone you know well.
The most important thing to remember is to always step forward when you either experience or witness harassment. By working together, it is possible to make the workplace a friendlier and more productive environment.
Recognizing Types Of Harassment
The first step is recognizing harassment in the workplace. Most often, you hear about sexual harassment, but that’s just a single type. Any action or words that are considered unwelcome or physically harmful are considered harassment, especially when they’re a result of a person’s race, gender, disability, age, sex, religion, genetics or nationality. When those actions or words make it difficult for a person to do their job or feel safe at their job, it’s unlawful. If a person is being threatened with losing their job if they don’t just ignore the harassment, that’s also illegal. Anything that demeans an employee can be considered harassment. Opinion Front breaks down types of workplace harassment with detailed examples. This helps you to better recognize harassment and take action.
Why People Don’t Come Forward
One of the biggest obstacles to stopping harassment in the workplace is supporting those who do come forward. Sadly, many people never report being harassed because they fear retaliation. As many as 75% of people experienced retaliation when it came to reporting harassment. To put things in more perspective, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lists the number of harassment complaints of all types from 2010 to 2018. The total number hasn’t changed much in those nine years, with the average being around 27,000 per year. Now, imagine how many people never say a word.
When employees feel too scared to come forward, they risk mental and physical harm. They can also end up quitting a promising career just to avoid the situation. All of this is because no one around them supports them, including the employer.
Stop Harassment In The Workplace
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. Some ways to put a stop to this include:
· Stepping up and serving as a witness when others report harassment
· Report harassment, even if it’s not happening to you
· Gather as much evidence as possible, including emails, texts, etc.
· File complaints with HR first and then the EEOC
· Use the organization’s anonymous ethics line to file a report
· Leave the situation (let HR, your employer and all co-workers know exactly why you’re leaving to make the harassment known)
All employers should have regular workplace harassment prevention training. This further helps everyone recognize harassment and know what to do. During training, explain the reporting process, including using an anonymous hotline. Having an anonymous option makes employees feel safer. As an employer, you must actively investigate claims and take appropriate action. This helps reduce harassment and makes employees more likely to report issues.
Remember, stopping harassment makes employees happier and more productive. It also creates an environment of growth for employees and the business.