Employees can experience harassment at work in a number of different ways. Whilst sexual harassment often generates the most attention, there are many other, non-sexual, types of harassment which can occur within the workplace. It is important to understand harassment and how it can affect you and your career in different ways. Knowing what counts as harassment can help you to spot it should it ever happen to you, or help to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Am I Being Harassed At Work?
Often the first, and most difficult, step when it comes to stopping harassment is admitting that it exists in the first place. Aggressive comments directed towards you could be seen as a way of the team “getting results”, or hurtful gossip may be deemed as “colleagues having a laugh” But, these are all definitions of harassment, which is “unwanted or unwelcome behaviour which is meant to”
- Violate your dignity, or
- Create an intimidating, degrading or hostile environment
Stopping Workplace Harassment
If it is safe for you to do so, then tell the person, or people, who are carrying out this behaviour that you are uncomfortable and ask them to stop. If you can, tell your HR or line manager what is going on as well, but if these individuals form part of the problem, then it is best to seek outside help, whether it be from Citizens Advice or a mediation solicitors.
Have It In Writing
Whether you choose to talk to the HR department or discuss the issue with an external source, put your complaint in writing and save multiple copies. Keep a diary of any incidents as they occur: jot down who did, or said, what and make a note of any potential witnesses. Jot down the date, time and location of where the events took place. You will be able to use this information later if you decide to raise a grievance or make a claim to an employment tribunal.
Relax: You Have Legal Protection
If you are worried, then thankfully the law is on your side. The 2010 Equality Act protects you from harassment by your colleagues or employer and it covers unlawful discrimination which is related to disability, age, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
Sexual harassment which occurs at work is where unwanted behaviour is made towards you of a sexual nature. Whether it be jokes about your sex life or unwanted sexual advances, the Equality Act and courts can help you to get compensation from a tribunal and get those who have harassed you dismissed.
How Employers Can Stop Harassment
If you’re an employer, then your business should have a zero-tolerance attitude towards harassment. Even if you aren’t aware that it’s happening, you and your company could face serious legal action from a corporate solicitors. In order to protect your business and your employees, you should lead by example and treat all of your workers with respect. Take any complaints seriously and carry out the right disciplinary proceedings as and when necessary.