Harassment at Workplace and its Preventive Laws

Harassment at WorkplaceWorkplace harassment are nowadays being increasingly reported that might take several major or minor forms, considered as an offense. The workplace or offices in which employees spend a major part of their day are highly prone to harassment for both the sexes. Men and women both can be a victim of this crime that offends the dignity and self-esteem of the person.

A behavior or action is termed as harassment when any employee makes continuous, unwelcoming advances or demands for sexual or other favors both verbally and physically against the wish to the other person. Even indecent gestures, comments on race, color, religion, identity, sex, any disability, sexual orientation or age can be termed as harassment if it impedes the performance of the other employee in any way. Behaviors like sanctioning of promotions, training, awards or other jobs after acceptance of any unwelcoming sexual or other forms of advances are considered wrongful as per law framed to protect the self-esteem of the employees.

A victim of harassment can be a man or a woman. Moreover, the victim can also be of the same gender as of the harasser who can be a senior person, boss, supervisor, colleague, employee of other department or even a non-employee having terms with the company.

Varied Forms of Harassment in Workplace

The causes and the forms of harassment can be wide ranging. Any sort of unwelcoming or discriminatory behavior is considered illegal or harassing that might cause a negative impact on work or performance. Such misconduct can be highly intimidating and can considered unlawful when

  • It is unwelcoming or uninvited
  • It offends, threatens or humiliates the person
  • It lowers your self esteem

The varied types and forms of workplace harassment are discussed in details:

Sexual harassment

this can take the form of unnecessary or unwanted physical or verbal touching, jokes that insult a particular gender or age of people, offense remarks, inappropriate use of words, suggestive visual display, asking for favors in return of promotions, assigning of projects, salary hike, recommendations and others. These can be of varied forms:

  • Gender Harassment
  • Seductive Behavior
  • Sexual Bribery
  • Sexual Coercion
  • Sexual Imposition

Racial harassment

This includes racially discriminating activities or conducts like improper or unjust questions or statements about ethnic origin, color, offensive graffiti and so on.

Personal harassment

This includes making fun of appearance, personal circumstances or situations, any injury caused or one’s unawareness about any issue or subject.


These take the form of psychological as well as physical harassment such as gossips, criticism, teasing, isolation, sudden assignment of detrimental duties, designation of unfavorable authority, withholding vital information or insulting/demeaning behavior.

Sexual orientation harassment

This accounts for remaking or joking about homophobic nature, threats for disclosing sexuality or questioning intimate questions about one's sexual activity.

Harassing disabled people

Insulting or passing abusive comments to disabled people about their disability, staring at their affected parts, remarking about it, uninvited touching, inappropriate questioning or laughing at it that hurts the concerned person are all accounted as harassment.

Age harassment

Its examples are passing derogatory remarks on age, unjustifiable suggestions on grounds of an age of a person, insulting one for his/her age, assigning of low esteem work or withholding promotions on basis of age.


These accounts for following employees home, leaving threatening messages, sending voice mails, sending abusive e-mails, or demanding for personal information.

Laws to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Harassment in any form is regarded as a sort of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA).

For prevention of such harassing incidents and to protect the rights of the employees, the state and the government have framed varied laws, rules and regulations that enable in safeguarding the rights and authorities of the employees. The offense activities of sexual harassment in any form violates the Civil Rights Act made in 1964. Any such activities is a violation and is definitely punishable under federal laws. Different states in USA have from time to time framed and promulgated many supplementary laws related to this offensive behavior. Besides this, even individual organizations, companies or offices also have their own set guidelines and punishments for any violation.

The federal law and the Department of Labor (DOL) policy condemns and prohibits harassment on grounds of color, sex, religion, age, race, origin, genetic information, disability, sexual orientation or parental status. The DOL policies encourage prompt reporting, recognition and offering immediate remedies for any harassment issues in workplace.

If a person is harassed he/she can resort to ‘Harassing Conduct Policy.' It is an effective way to prevent and stop any form of harassing conduct, even before it becomes grave and becomes punishable. The goal is to eliminate the offensive actions before they get severe. The ‘Fair Employment Protection Act' also offers crucial protection laws for workers to be relieved from harassment.

The U. S. Department of Labor Manual Series also states several policies and procedures for preventing and eliminating harassing conduct in the workplace. The laws and regulations are quite stringent and protect the dignity, esteem and the rights of the employee in the workplace.

If you ever face any harassment issues or have been a regular victim of it immediately seek help from a qualified or experienced lawyer well versed with the laws and rules stated by the federal law. A lawyer will be able to probe into the case, noting about the nature of the conduct, its frequency, context and impact. The procedure varied from case to case basis and a skilled lawyer will be able aptly fight for the cause, bringing in the right justice and claiming for compensations too.

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