Types of workplace harassment

Workplace harassment comes in a variety of deliveries and categories.

The harassment delivery mediums include:

  • In person
  • In writing
  • By telephone
  • Via e-mail
  • Types of workplace harassment can also occur through any other means of communication. (text messaging, instant messaging)
Harassment can be physical, verbal or visual. Examples of verbal harassment include but are not limited to unwelcome comments, jokes, insults and name-calling. It can include any other words and conduct that demean, stigmatize, intimidate, or single out a person because of his or her sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or other legally protected status.
Examples of physical or visual types of workplace harassment include but are not limited to unwelcome physical contact, damaging personal property, possession or display of derogatory pictures or other graphic materials.

The most frequent types of workplace harassment occur in the following categories:

  • Sexual harassment, which includes unwanted sexually explicit words or advances, gestures and images. Applying a positive or negative personnel action based on accepting or refusing sexual advances. It can also be based on negative treatment on the basis of gender.
  • Race harassment most often occurs as offensive comments, jokes, gestures. This includes even when the victim and violator are the same race.
  • Religious harassment usually involves jokes, or other demeaning conduct based on a person’s religion and religious observances of holidays or dress. Also, attempting to force an employee to participate or not participate in religious activities also constitutes religious harassment.
  • National origin harassment occurs when the nature of the slur is based on the perceived persons origin.
  • Disability harassment is when a physical or mental disability of the focus of the harassment message.
  • Age harassment is when subjects are left out, or asked to do something, based on their age.
  • Genetic Information is discrimination based on information the employer has about the employee, or hiring prospect’s genetic information. (Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), which prohibits genetic information discrimination in employment, took effect on November 21, 2009.)
With harassment arriving in many different forms, work with your HR professionals to make sure you have your policies developed, documented and distributed to your employees.
The following resources can help with your research:
  1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Harassment information page has good information, as well as additional resources on the right-hand side of their page.
  2. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
  3. Facts about sexual harassment
 Modern Business Associates is an HR company that frequently helps companies with their business issues.  As a Professional Payroll and HR outsource organization, our clients rely on us to help them effectively deal with these kinds of topics.