The workplace can be a stressful environment at times for both management and employees. However, there are boundaries, and no employee should be subjected to workplace harassment.
Often, harassment is blatant and easy to identify, such as if an employee has been subjected to physical harassment that has caused a physical injury. However, harassment may also take on more subtle forms. Just because harassment is subtle doesn’t mean that it cannot significantly damage the well-being of an individual.
Consequently, subtle types of harassment warrant further consideration. Outlined below are three more subtle types of workplace harassment.
Abuse disguised as humor
Jokes and fun can often have a positive impact on morale in the workplace. Offensive jokes don’t necessarily amount to workplace harassment. Nonetheless, people frequently use humor as a means to mask harassment. If “offensive humor” excludes an individual, intimidates them and creates a hostile working environment as they reflect upon it, then it could be classified as workplace harassment.
Human beings can say a lot with their body language alone. The signs are often difficult for an outsider to spot, but nonverbal communication can also amount to harassment. Postures, stares and gestures could make a person feel intimidated. This is a tactic that aggressors often use because this method of communication can be tough for anyone other than the victim to detect.
Aggressive management tactics
Another form of harassment that can be subtle is aggressive management tactics. For example, an employer may increase an employee’s workload to a level that they know the employee cannot keep up with and then criticize them unfairly. This form of harassment may be more difficult to spot because it appears at first glance to be work-related. However, the consequences can still be very distressing for those on the receiving end.
Workplace harassment is often blatant, but it is important to remember that it can also be subtle. Understanding your legal rights as an employee could be in your best interests.