Harassment in the workplace is a serious problem. Not only is it illegal but it decreases productivity and job satisfaction as well. Workplace Harassment takes two forms - Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Workplace Harassment. Quid Pro Quo, which means this for that, is harassment where a person in charge of employment decisions (such as hiring, firing, promotions, raises and performance reviews) makes an employment decision based on the submission to or rejection of a sexual behavior. For instance a supervisor give a subordinate a poor performance reviews based on the rejection of a sexual advance. Hostile Workplace Harassment occurs when an employee is repeated exposed to behavior that makes them unable to complete their work due to feelings of disrespect and or fear. This type of harassment is more pervasive than Quid Pro Quo and often times more subtle.
Every employee in an organization has a responsibility to stop harassment. If you are a victim of Quid Pro Harassment it needs to be reported immediately. This type of harassment is completely unacceptable in any organization. Hostile Workplace Harassment is also unacceptable; however it can be more difficult to report. Many times the victim just wants the behavior to go away. The victim of the harassment needs to confront of the harasser or if they are fearful they need to talk to a supervisor, manager or human resources. In addition, co-workers of both the victim and the harasser need to step in when they see this type of harassment occur. If the entire organization works together to stop harassment, the problem can be eradicated more efficiently.
Hostile Workplace Harassment can occur between any employees in the workplace: employees of the same position, third party people such as delivery drivers, a supervisor and employee, and persons of the same sex. This type of harassment can occur anywhere and in any form. The harassed person doesn't even have to be directly harassed. They can just be a witness and feel that the repeated behavior has made it difficult for them to work.
Harassment can take the form of jokes, pictures, emails, touching, whistling, blocking a person's path, lewd movements, imitations and any other behavior that mocks or demeans a person's race, ethnicity, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, military service or any other protected class. If any of these occurs in your presence at work, then you have a responsibility to confront the harasser or report the action to management -even if you weren't offended or a direct target. If we all take responsibility to stop harassment, it can be drastically decreased.
Whatever type of harassment occurs in the workplace it is unacceptable. It takes a team effort to make sure that all of our co-workers feel safe and comfortable at work. The organization will be a more effective, productive and happy place to be and that benefits everyone.
Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of training videos for TrainingABC. TrainingABC has been a leader in the distribution of harassment training http://www.trainingabc.com/Harassment-p-1-c-288.html for the last 15 years specializing in harassment videos http://www.trainingabc.com/Harassment-p-1-c-288.html and DVDs.