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Abuse in the Workplace: How to Recognize It and Report an Employer

15 min read
Abuse in the Workplace: How to Recognize It and Report an Employer

Harassment and abuse in the workplace continue to be a problem today. It comes in various forms, whether physical or not.

In a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency recovered about $164.5 million for workers with alleged harassment claims.

Abuse and harassment would impact productivity among employees by creating a hostile environment. This impedes everyone in the workforce with a problematic culture.

When you encounter such instances of harassment, do not hesitate to report. Whether this involves you or someone else in your workplace, take action.

If you don’t know how, we’re here to help. Let us look at how you can take action and stop abuse in the workplace.

1. Determine and Identify the Harassment

When you encounter abuse in the workplace, you need to figure out what form this abuse takes. This also lets you identify which laws it violates. This also needs prudence as it can aid you when filing the complaint and have it proceed under the right clauses.

Harassment may or may not have physical evidence. It can also take other forms like slurs, offensive jokes, physical assault, and overwork. It can come from your supervisor, a co-employee, or a non-employee.

Let us look at the types of harassment that you would encounter and how to recognize each one.

Verbal Harassment

This involves demeaning remarks and offensive gestures. It can also involve insults, hurtful comments, slurs, and unwanted jokes. It is rather hard to recognize due to being non-physical in nature.

Verbal harassment sits in a gray area. But it is also one that can cause depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Yelling and making inappropriate remarks can also come up as a case of a personality conflict.

Psychological Harassment

This stands in the same vein as verbal harassment and leans in the nonphysical category.

This form of harassment takes on a more covert approach and would include exclusionary tactics. Withholding information is one such example.

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The action of taking credit for someone’s achievement. Making impossible demands, even singling out an employee by imposing an unreasonable deadline.

While the actions do not seem like harassment at a glance, it is a form of psychological bullying.

Digital Harassment/Cyberbullying

Digital harassment operates on an online level. It can also be just as detrimental as bullying in-person. As of late, this surfaced as one of the new forms of harassment that people face today.

This comes in the form of demeaning comments and threats on social media. It could also come from alternate social accounts or fake ones that leave such comments. It can even go as far as creating a social media page, or even a webpage, dedicated to belittle and mock the person.

With how social media and the internet providing this sense of anonymity to its users, people end up being braver with their statements online. They end up reaching a point where they ignore common decency.

On the bright side, you can document and take screenshots of these posts. You can keep file of these and have them with you while filing the complaint.

Physical Harassment

While the act itself is outward and visible in nature, it can still be hard to spot. Physical harassment comes in various degrees, whether by unwanted gestures or by physical assault. Even threats of violence or damage to property count as physical harassment.

Pushing, shoving, or kicking can be an act of physical abuse but can also get downplayed if the victim was not hurt by these actions. The lack of physical proof, such as bruises or cuts, can weaken the case but you shouldn’t let these instances pass by.

The court still considers these acts as physical harassment. When the actions become too violent, contact 911 immediately.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is one of the most serious offenses. It is also one of the more common offenses encountered at work. The gravitas of the offense is further defined by the new child abuse law which also covers sexual harassment.

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In fact, about 87-91% of individuals harassed do not file a complaint. Experienced by both men and women, sexual harassment comes in various forms.

The term makes it sound straightforward but it also comes in different forms. It can be in the form of sexual remarks or messages.

It can also be in the form of unwanted sexual advances like inappropriate touching. It also comes in the form of requiring sexual favors with the promise of a promotion or raise.

The other problem to this is that victims would choose not to report it, aiming to not put attention upon themselves. Other victims have retaliation as the other concern when reporting.

2. Report and Escalate the Issue

Despite the form of harassments you encounter, it has to stop. Upon identifying the form of harassment that you encounter, it is time that you escalate the issue to the right department.

You can try to resolve this issue in a calm manner. If the abuse was in the physical sense, do not approach and take on a different resolution.

The first stop usually goes to the immediate supervisor. Unless they are the perpetrator. Also, escalate this issue to the HR when attempts at resolution fail. Whenever possible, have the evidence in hand.

3. Contact the Appropriate Agency

Now, if the managers, HR, and company management seem to have not provided a satisfactory result regarding your case, this is when you should consider taking it to the appropriate agency for the matter.

In this case, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They can help with investigating the matter independently.

Don’t Be Silent Regarding Abuse in the Workplace

When it comes to abuse in the workplace, you need to draw the line. While you work for a company as part of their workforce, emphasize that employees are people as well. What you need is a company that gives value to people.

Did you find this article useful? Feel free to look into our other articles for more information and guides.

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