Workplace harassment has become a national problem. According to Statistics Canada, one-fifth of women report to be victims of harassment at the office, and 13 percent of men say they have been harassed.

Harassment can come in many forms, from sexual to discriminatory to verbal. A separate study found that 20 percent of Canadians reported to being sexually harassed, and another poll found that one-quarter of Canadians say they have been discriminated against because of their age. Ultimately, Canada has a long way to go, even though most believe their office is open and inclusive.
One way to improve the situation for many is to educate yourself on what constitutes harassment. Here are eight detailed workplace harassment examples to learn more about:

1. Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the most common types of workplace harassment, especially in today’s world when race, religion, and gender have become hot-button issues. What may have been acceptable 20 or 30 years ago, is no longer allowed today, judging by societal standards.

Here are the various kinds of discriminatory harassment:

  • Racial: Jokes, slurs, and insults.
  • Sexual orientation: Inappropriate comments, mockery, and isolated.
  • Gender: Stereotypes (that’s a man’s job or material insulting to women).
  • Religion: Cruel jokes, intolerance toward customs, and pressure to convert to another religion.
  • Disability: Patronizing, uncouth comments, and inability to accommodate.
  • Age: Generational stereotypes, ignored, and potentially pushed into retirement.

2. Bullying

While bullying can be based on things like gender or race, most bullying can be just personal harassment, similar to what may have happened to you or your peers in school. This could consist of intimidation, humiliation, ostracizing, criticism, and crude comments.

When bullying is not reined in, it can metastasize the workplace into a toxic environment.

3. Physical Harassment

It is true that physical gestures could be jovial and playful, the person on the receiving end gets to decide what is right or wrong. Therefore, physical attacks, destruction of property, or verbal threats is classified as physical harassment, though they are not as common as the aforementioned.

That said, if physical harassment is constant and intense, then not only should human resources be notified, but you may also need to submit a complaint to the proper authorities, especially if the company fails to do anything about this behaviour.

4. Abuse of Power

Unfortunately, people in positions authority can oftentimes abuse their power, but this is worse when that individual is taking out on someone else. Power harassment is described as someone in a position of power who then bullies his or her victim in a lower position.

Here are some examples:

  • A manager intrudes into the staff member’s personal life (reading through their file).
  • Making excessive demands of the employee that is impossible to meet.
  • Poking fun at the employee’s abilities – or lack thereof.

A lot of the time, this harassment is psychological (see below).

5. Psychological Harassment

Psychological harassment can be a little grayer – it is rarely black and white. That said, victims of psychological harassment say they feel belittled, humiliated, or depressed.

But what does this look like? Here are some instances:

  • Challenged on everything they say, while others’ opinions are accepted.
  • Victim of insidious rumours or discredited by senior management.
  • Their presence is denied or they are isolated from others.
  • Their work is trivialized or mocked.

Eventually, the victim will experience their psychological well-being suffer that can affect their personal, professional, and social life.

6. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment has become one of the biggest workplace-related complaints, especially for women, though men do experience it as well. From sexual advances to inappropriate conduct to poor behaviour, you’ll find many workplace harassment examples in every industry.

At first, it might create discomfort. However, the longer it goes on and the more prevalent it is, the office environment could eventually be toxic and impact the person’s life.

Are you still unsure what this constitutes?

  • Touching or gestures.
  • Making sexual comments or asking sex-related questions.
  • Sharing pornography with colleagues.
  • Invading victims’ personal spaces in a sexual way.
  • Quid pro quo (something for something); exchanging sex for job benefits.

If your office is devising a workplace policy document, sexual harassment training needs to be prioritized at the top of the agenda.

7. Verbal Harassment

Even if you are someone who has an incredibly thick skin, verbal harassment can turn into something extremely unpleasant, leaving you feeling disgruntled, frustrated, and potentially depressed. Most of the time, verbal harassment can simply personality conflicts, two people who just don’t like each other.

Unfortunately, it has escalated beyond just avoiding eye contact or taking pleasure in their faults. These inner-office battles have now upgraded to insulting, cursing, and yelling. This isn’t illegal unless it is directed at someone in a protected class (religion, disability, gender, citizenship, etc.). But it should be avoided at all possible times.

If there is conflict in the workplace, then it is up to management to rectify the situation before it gets out of hand.

8. Cyberbullying

There are two ways to bully someone now: in person or online.

The beef between two people at the office has become so severe that the offender has taken it to the online world, whether it is on instant message platforms for work (Slack) or on social media. Cyberbullying can even occur through text message.

This can take many terrifying forms:

  • Say nasty things about the person in a widely shared email or mass chat.
  • Share humiliating information or lies on Facebook.
  • Send harassing messages through instant messaging, text messaging, and office platforms.

Indeed, cyberbullying is no longer just for today’s youth; it can seep into adulthood, too.

An important task for businesses to complete is establishing a corporate policy. This should be an outline of what is acceptable, what is prohibited, and what will happen if an employee violates one of the company codes. By doing this, the organization shields itself, employees are protected, and the person who is found to be guilty will be reprimanded.