When we hear the word harassment, we most often first think of sexual harassment. Especially when it comes to harassment in the workplace, we often first picture a male boss and female subordinate.
While these are prevalent and important types of harassment for us to be aware of, not all harassment is sexual. It is critical that we understand all types of harassment so that we can protect ourselves and employees from it. Here, we will discuss ways in which people experience harassment in the workplace that is not sexual.
- Skin color
- Sex or gender
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Genetic information
Just like harassment is not always sexual, it does not always come from one’s supervisor or boss either. Harassers can be anyone in the workplace, including but not limited to supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, vendors, customers and clients. The victim of harassment can also be in any role, including as the boss, a peer or employee.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment is unlawful when it is “offensive conduct [that] becomes a condition of continued employment or… severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive.” There is no single picture of what harassment in the workplace looks like. It can happen to anyone at any time.
If you are experiencing harassment in the workplace, know that you and your fellow employees have the right to work in an environment that is respectful. You may be able to talk to supervisors, employers, attorneys and the EEOC to help resolve the issue.