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What is Workplace Harassment?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Workplace harassment is any type of unwelcome action toward an employee that leads to difficulty in performing assigned tasks or causes the employee to feel he or she is working in a hostile environment. The harassment may be based on such factors as race, gender, culture, age, sexual orientation, or religious preference. In many countries, there are laws that protect employees from enduring this type of on the job abuse, if the reality of the harassment can be proven.

In general, there are several factors that must be present in order to workplace harassment to be recognized. First, the conduct must be unwelcome and offensive to the employee. Second, the employee must voice his or her objection to the behavior, allowing the offending individual or individuals to correct their workplace behavior. Last, the conduct must be of a nature that makes an impact on the ability of the employee to carry out his or her duties in an efficient and responsible manner.

Some forms of workplace harassment are more common than others. Unwanted sexual advances by peers or supervisors is the most oft cited form of workplace harassment. Both male and female employees may be approached by someone in the workplace who either hint or directly state that compliance will benefit the employee in some manner, or at least help to ensure that employment will continue. Today, many countries have laws that protect employees of all genders from this type of harassment.

Workplace harassment may also take the form of prejudiced remarks or tasteless jokes that have to do with an individual’s personal beliefs, age, or sexual orientation. While harassment of this type is widespread in many offices and other workplaces, employers are beginning to take a more aggressive stance on slurs, name-calling and veiled threats that target employees for any of these reasons. In addition, more countries are expanding harassment laws to include irresponsible remarks and various forms of intimidation that have to do with age, religion, and orientation.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, more employers have put in place specific procedures for reporting and evaluating situations involving workplace harassment. In the best of circumstances, the goal of the reporting is to identify unacceptable behavior and correct the issues so that everyone can feel more comfortable in the workplace. However, internal politics within the company can lead to both the downplaying of legitimate complaints as well as make it easy for people to be unjustly accused of harassing another employee.

More progressive employers make use of sensitivity training to assist employees in dealing with workplace harassment. The training often involves helping everyone to understand more about different cultures and other characteristics that are relevant to those working for the business. By dispelling myths about issues such as age, gender, orientation, and race, the hope is that colleagues become more educated and thus less likely to engage in conduct that will be offensive to a coworker.

Even as companies take steps to police the actions of their employees, local and national governments enact legislation that provides individuals with legal protection from many forms of workplace harassment. Protection of this type is especially important in situations where a company does not have a well-defined procedure for dealing with reported harassment, or officers are indifferent to the intimidation and hostile work environment that workplace harassment creates.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon948699 — On May 01, 2014

Several months ago I reported to leadership that my supervisor had talked about blowjobs to me and my female worker. To this day, we don't know what happened with our written complaint.

Anyway, he did it again today. What I want to know is whether I should talk to my supervisor that he needs to stop or report it a second time. I didn't talk to my supervisor the first time, but I thought management would have. The problem I'm having is since I don't like him very much because he's a bully, if I say something it'll feel more like personal satisfaction than reporting him because it's the right thing to do. Help!

By anon943857 — On Apr 04, 2014

I am home today because I'm just too depressed to go to work. A girl whom I thought was my friend turned on me and viciously upbraided me in front of my co-workers. When she left the room, I told my co-workers I thought I had just been bullied. They agreed. My boss told me to write an email telling how I felt, saying that she was often aggressive in the manner she was with me, and stated that he'd make sure I was "made whole."

He dragged his heels on the whole thing (after consulting the company lawyers?) and still hadn't taken action a week later. Long story short: after all of the above, she sent an aggressive email accusing me of not following her directions. I was in a panic and tried to explain what was happening to my boss. I don't think he understood what I was getting at. Basically, I told him she was doing the same thing that had culminated in the earlier "upbraiding" episode; that is, she was trying to make it look like I wasn't following her directions, when the exact opposite was true.

I became upset and was soon subject to a "counseling" session. Two things that I took away from that session: 1) He gave me highlighted text from the employee conduct manual about workplace gossip and discriminatory behavior, implying this applied to me; and he asked me if the girl would tell him that I had said something "rude" to her. The girl and I did engage in workplace complaints during our "friendly" phase. Evidently my complaints were leaked to my boss. How unkind of that girl.

I am often told I am "rude," at work, and it's gotten to the point where I have a complex. I come from "genuine" people, not the cocktail party set. Does this make me "rude"? My workplace is touted as a multi-cultural work environment. How does my "genuineness" not qualify as part of my cultural legacy, much as the shyness of the Asians and the raucous humor of the Russians qualify as a legacy of theirs? I feel humiliated, betrayed and harassed. I just want to die.

By coldshoulder — On Feb 25, 2014

Even smiling at women in the workplace can get you in hot water. I got officially reprimanded because an old (ugly) woman felt that I was romantically interested in her because I kept smiling when I passing her in the corridor. I am in my mid-30's and the simple thought of having an affair of any kind with that women makes me sick.

By anon929924 — On Feb 03, 2014

I work for a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde manager. By reputation he is known as the trickster. His answer to every question where I ask for more details is 'because I think so.' Yet he is completing 10 years in IBM. He typifies all bad boss behaviors, including cracking insipid jokes, taking credit, placing blame on individuals.

More than once he tried to pawn off his brother-in-law to me in marriage. He uses cuss words to female employees, but he is on his best behavior in front of his bosses and HR.

Recently, one team member took maternity leave and she was replaced. What is the use of such leave/HR policies, then? I didn't expect this from such a reputable company. It just proves that bad bosses exist everywhere.

By reachd — On Jan 11, 2014

Any advice for a victim of workplace bullying or threats? A co-worker was hired in just one year ago. She was terminated from her previous job for striking a coworker. Anyway, simply because I transferred a call to her, she flew into a rage and threatened to kill me 'or' have me killed. Given her history, I took this seriously.

She is a very loud, volatile personality --a bully. I immediately went to my supervisor who blew it off as nothing. So I filed a police report. Long story short: my boss and the physician I work for said it's her word against mine, and ordered us both into anger management. I walked away and did not argue. But I still feel screwed over.

I came home today and have cried until I simply can't cry anymore. Keep in mind: my boss (immediate supervisor) and this coworker are not only friends outside the workplace, they have three sideline businesses : 'Stampin It Up cards, "Thirty One " purse sales and Avon. I just am devastated. I was told today by superiors that I overreacted.

By anon340027 — On Jun 29, 2013

I worked for a foreign mission and before my first day of work even came about, my new boss stereotyped me to my face and made outright distinctions between us locals and the other employees of his nationality. Apparently because of my nationality, I was supposed to be a typical slacker and ignorant of proper etiquette. The tone in which this man spoke to me was so reprimanding! After he had finished stating his views of me, or I should say us locals, he switched back on the charm as though nothing had happened! This was just one of the many times he openly stereotyped me.

He was a complete Jekyll and Hyde. On my first day, I was placed with a much older person who was responsible for teaching me the job. That very day, my boss took me away from my location to have me work on something else in an office near his office. This allowed him to call me out whenever he wanted (by my first name always, since only the locals can be addressed this way and the employees of his nationality were to be addressed as Mr. and Ms., etc). I therefore lost a lot of the time I needed to learn my own duties. He started quizzing me from that first day and I constantly had to listen to negative comments from him if I was unable to answer a question. He apparently expected me to memorize an entire directory of individuals that he contacted in an hour! How could I even start when he moved me to another location?

He often stood too close to me, always at my side, mostly my right side, and spoke low, as though he did not want anyone to hear. I also had to deal with his constant references to his wife. His wife is of the same race as I am and therefore was a topic from the day of the interview until the day I left. If it was not that she had allergies like I did, it was some other comparison. It was as though he wanted me to know that she shared something in common with me.

On the day before he left to return home, he came to find me simply to tell me that he was going home to her. I ignored the undertone of that message. One day, everyone had lunch at a restaurant. He came and sat near me -- something I really did not want. He went all romantic on me! It was so embarrassing! He chose to make a good impression of himself by playing counselor to another employee and everything was about being in love. Then the tried to convince me to move to that city and said that I would do so when I fell in love from someone from there. I don't have to tell you that I heard feedback about this when I returned to the office.

One employee found it useful to repeat derogatory, racist comments to my face against people of my race, and she even felt it appropriate to justify it, as though the stereotyping by my own boss was not enough. It was no one's job to do anything in there. Trying to talk to people in there often resulted in contrary responses because few seemed willing to actually listen. Instead, they always knew what you were going to say. If you were accused of something, it did no good trying to defend yourself. You just listened to what they had to say and said okay because they were not to be interrupted.

One individual thought it appropriate to shout at me on several occasions. On one occasion, after facing such treatment, I was made to endure further insults from my boss on account of it, since he overheard the shouting.

I was provided with a computer with Internet access in a different room from the one where I was assigned. After spending some time away from this room where my so-called trainer was, I was made to return to this front office. I was not to leave there freely, and could only do so in the afternoon if it was quiet, but I needed the computer to do my job, and my boss started to forward emails to me to get me to see him in his office about them. I was instructed that I needed to perform tasks on behalf of everyone there, but my boss seemed to only find more reasons to give me a hard time for doing this work because it meant that I was not there for his work. He even made inappropriate insinuations about me and one of his male superiors because I had some important work to complete for him and he wanted me to leave it for what he wanted.

In summary, I was constantly criticized. If he accused me of one thing and I showed him that no fault existed with one thing, he would look for something else to criticize. From what he told me, they also spoke about me behind my back. I became something like a scapegoat and I was also a witness of how he treated other local women there. It was simply appalling!

I decided that it was time to leave the day I finally felt like I was going crazy. I got tired of being spoken down to and being spoken to like a child. I got tired of people jumping to conclusions without first talking to me. I got tired of the accusations and the threats. He threatened to fire me for not taking him coffee one day, even though I was simply the messenger and again the following day. There was simply no way of winning and no one did anything about it.

I had to work for the others, but when I did, I got a hard time for it, if I didn't, the same would happen. He was so crafty that at first he would be mean only when no one else was there, and then it didn't matter if someone else was there.

My previous job was terrible. I literally needed to look over my shoulder to protect myself from a hateful secretary and her gang who went as far as trying to set me up to look like a fraudulent person, but at least my then boss was not that bad. But this place was worse. It was like slamming into a wall no matter what direction you went in.

By anon338107 — On Jun 10, 2013

Everyone needs to remember that anti-harassment laws were not created in a vacuum. People were getting abused and a standard had to be set. Just because there is a law doesn't mean people won't break it. People will do what they do and abuse others. They will treat others in ways they don't want to be treated. The law exists as a standard or treatment and protection and a penalty.

By amypollick — On Apr 17, 2013

@anon330549: Even if this woman becoming pregnant is some sort of bizarre imitation of what you're doing, I have no doubt the situation is exacerbated by your emotions, which are understandably all over the place because of your efforts to become pregnant.

Please allow me to suggest that you get some counseling to help you learn coping skills to de-stress and deal with this situation in a healthy way. It will make for a healthier you, which will also make for a healthier baby when you do become pregnant. Good luck.

By anon330549 — On Apr 17, 2013

What about someone in the workplace who copies everything you do, and who seems to be obsessed with you, and your life? There are plenty of details, but the most recent (and disturbing) is I have been struggling to get pregnant for quite some time now and have been seeing fertility specialists. Were are so close to getting pregnant, and now this girl has decided to get pregnant as well, almost as if to shove it in my face that she can do it easily, and I can't. It's terrible! I don't know what to do.

By anon271441 — On May 26, 2012

Harassment is tricky. It is used as a form of control and power play by people who are threatened. If they feel you make them look bad in any way (physically, intellectually, creatively, being more competent etc.) they will harass you.

There is a thing called intuition. Ever thought, "I had a feeling but..." or "I knew I should have..." or "I thought something was off.." and wish you had followed up on that intuition? Most HR departments and management want harassment cases to be seen as a single troublemaker because it is easier to get rid of one target than a group of bullies, but I don't think most people start a new job with the intention of causing trouble.

When the behavior first occurs, you may be shocked and overlook it, but I have found that it is best to trust your gut. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. The scary part is that sometimes going to HR and management may be the worst action to take. Do you leave and give the bullies what they want or do you stay and face illness and mental torture? Tough one.

By anon268405 — On May 14, 2012

I am being accused of 'inappropriately touching' a fellow female employee during a non-company event. The event was a group of folks, some employees, some not at a bar after a baseball game.

There was plenty of drinking by all parties (including the accuser), and the fellow female employee claims that I touched her hand in an inappropriate manner which I do not recall doing at all. I am now being investigated by my company? Should I be worried?

By anon267288 — On May 09, 2012

Be careful even complimenting a woman on the job these days. Recently, I told a woman at work that I liked her hair and not long afterward, I was given a "friendly" warning from someone on HR that I was accused of harassment. I said nothing sexual or perverse, just a basic compliment.

Some of the women out there are on their high horse and take every compliment as a seduction attempt. I still work there, but I determined that I will never compliment a woman there who is anywhere close to nice looking. It's not worth the hassle these days.

By anon219051 — On Oct 01, 2011

Workplace Harassment in South Africa. How do I get recourse for workplace harassment -- persistent verbal abuse by my supervisor. My company agrees the supervisor's conduct was below that of someone in a managerial position. Remedial action undertaken by my company has not been implemented one month down the line. Please help!

By anon214722 — On Sep 15, 2011

I need some help. Can anyone offer help?

I work in brantford, Ontario, and jobs are very difficult to find due to the closure of 80 percent of industrial work. I have found a job that I can physically do, due to a prior job injury. I need this job. It is full-time, and pays my bills. I am at this factory through an agency, and was really hoping to become permanent.

The problem is the owner. He is an old Korean man, who still believes he lives there.

Here are some of his rules: no talking; no looking up from your job; do not acknowledge anyone who walks by or comes to your work station. No smiling; do not show your teeth, that is considered smiling.

You cannot cross your legs. You have to sit up straight in you chair. You cannot say good morning or good night until you are out of the plant.

You may not speak to anyone, while walking to and from the lunch room. You may only speak in the lunch room, and do not talk about personal issues.

You may never ask what the parts are used for that you are making; this is strictly forbidden.

You are never to discuss wages. You may never ever interrupt, or talk or ask any questions when this owner is talking to you. If you are doing any of the above, in his words, "You will be punished! Or fired!”

I asked for pliers for a job and he told me, no, that if I don't like working with my hands, to leave. He instructed a line leader to let him know if I complain again, and he will get rid of me.

It's crazy crap in there. There are over 80 employees, and all have conformed to his rules. Everyone is very unhappy, and calls him a Nazi. But everyone needs a job, so they tolerate it.

In my mind, this is major harassment, bullying and even bordering on human rights violations. I believe nobody should be treated this way. It is non union, so I complained to Human Resources, and she said her hands are tied -- that's what happens when it is a family business.

I then went to the agency, and they danced around it, and said well it's all how one perceives it. I told the agency that six of the temps left all due to this environment, and they are blowing me off saying well, I don't really think so. I told them I know so, since each of them told me they were leaving because it feels like a concentration camp.

What to do? I too am stuck in a position of needing a job that I can do. This is why the 80 people stay: because it is a steady job. Please, am I going crazy, should I conform and accept this nonsense?

Or, is there something I can do, to change this man's ways? --Sincerely, trapped in life, and it stinks!

By anon200601 — On Jul 27, 2011

As an HR Officer and supervisor, I have had a few employees claim harassment as a cop out to not pull their weight and work.

In one case, an employee who was supposed to provide office coverage (i.e. stay late on her assigned day) failed to do so 36 times with repeated notices to do so. When I reminded her it was her time to stay late, she claimed harassment. She couldn't stay late because she sprained her ankle, it was too hot, she needed to vote, etc. All the other employees did it.

A current employee is claiming I'm harassing her by assigning her work. She's taken it to my first line, second line and third line supervisor. The whole group doesn't have much work to do and tries to avoid any assignment of work. She is mad because I asked her what time she arrived some days when I went to her desk and she wasn't there.

Sadly, employees like this use the harassment defense to mask their poor conduct or performance. Managers often "back off," and not because the higher ups don't agree or worry about actually losing an harassment case. They back off because it costs less money to let the loser stay and do whatever they want than to take 5-10 employees to work on removing the employee or working the alleged harassment case.

I believe there are some legitimate harassment cases, but in 25 years with the government in HR, most are a bunch of crap. Before you file a harassment case, take a hard look at yourself. If you are such a great employee, you are probably very marketable and can get another job quickly. Put your resume out there and see how you fare. If you don't get a job, focus on what the manager is telling you and consider whether there may be something that you can do differently.

By anon185949 — On Jun 13, 2011

I have MS and a superior of mine has a drug problem. He has begun to make my work environment very in comfortable. He wants my pain meds and emails me daily, sometimes multiple times a day asking for my meds. I constantly say no, but he calls me a liar and states that since he puts a good word in for me with management I should repay him with my meds. I still say no and now he is creating an impression of me with management that I am somewhat incompetent.

He assigns unfinished work to my inbox and then shows it to management stating that I was assigned the work over a week ago and have not even touched it or looked at it. He is going to cost me my job if I don’t give him my meds and I am about to forward his emails to management as well as the entire floor. Aa soon as I hit the send button Ill be laughing as I walk out the door.

By anon162064 — On Mar 22, 2011

I have a boss who has been going through the effort of having me either become belligerent, quit suddenly, or reduce me to tears. None of this works! However, I did complain to upper management about her condescending attitude towards me (especially in front of my colleagues). I even wrote a letter to the head of our dept about an incident involving a conference room key. I threatened a lawsuit and contacted the EEOC. It worked! Now she leaves me alone and only speaks to me when she has to.

My advice: remain professional and log everything down that is done to you. Save e-mails, write notes and keep tabs on everything that is said and done to you. It helps build your case.

P.S. I later learned a past employee went through the same thing and she volunteered to help if we took this to court!

By anon161689 — On Mar 21, 2011

I am working in an engineering consultancy company. I have done my M.E. in Highway Engineering. It has been two years since i joined. But my boss did not assign me any designing work. In spite of that, they sent me to site continuously without a gap.

I have to just supervise the traffic counting work. I did not gain any knowledge by doing that. I have told my boss to please give me some engineering work. But he is not assigning me that. Now my CV is not approved yet. So what shall i do? Please help. I feel that my professional life is gone and I am very depressed. Please help!

By anon155244 — On Feb 23, 2011

I work in an assisted living facility. I have a coworker who has verbally attacked me racially on several occasions and my employer does nothing. It is a small business and I just don't think they want the attention. They downplay every complaint that I or other coworkers make. This monster coworker has even hurt our residents and nothing is done! I need my job as I am the only means of support for a family of four, but this woman is going to hurt if not kill someone someday. I feel helpless!

By anon147304 — On Jan 28, 2011

I am currently in a situation where I am being verbally harassed by the Human Resources Director whom I support. He has yelled at me in the office in front of everyone and speaks to me in a condescending tone. All of my coworkers hear it and have commented.

My company is very aware of the situation and of his reputation as a bully. I have an excellent work record with three awards for outstanding work within the last four years. It is amazing what this man gets away with in the workplace. And I believe he actually enjoys being the bully in charge.

By anon147082 — On Jan 28, 2011

I have been given a project that requires knowledge and skills that I don't have. The manuals don't tell you all you need to know, so I have to ask my boss for help and confirmation that what I was doing was correct.

This guy refused to listen and was impatient with me, putting down the way I had done something. After taking over the data and manipulating it, it seems that my solutions were correct.

Since this guy was unpleasant, I went to another who helped for a while in a kinder manner, but eventually refused his help, since he thinks my boss should be teaching me. This puts me in a difficult situation but I am going to have to let my boss know that I find the culture of the workplace unpleasant and that is due, in part, to him.

By anon146252 — On Jan 25, 2011

I was recently hired for a job. Three months later, I had a family emergency forcing me to leave for two weeks. Upon my return I was chastised for 'poor attendance.' My hours were cut 30 percent. My evaluation consisted of negative input based on data that was not even in the job description.

I was told by this boss not to go to her supervisor. I went to the Union. Miraculously at the next level, all the negative issues were completely omitted. Later, this woman's supervisor (who became my new boss) told me that my hours were never supposed to be cut, and I was to resume working 10 more hours a week. I filed a grievance for unpaid hours that I would have and should have worked with the union but didn't because I was told not to.

During the first boss' management of me, she hounded me for punctuation, spelling, grammar, instead of training me on the details of the job. I am a medical person and she is not, yet she still criticized my physical assessments.

I went to HR, but nothing could be done. I went to corporate compliance. Again - nothing.

In the past, this particular manager had been made to take anger management classes, and other employees had to take stress leave because of her.

I finally wrote to upper management. When the job changed so drastically, it was something I would never have signed up for. I was told, "You were this close to burning bridges," in spite of following all the rules.

I am currently out of that situation. But the feeling of being hounded, lied to, and having hours cut without permission affected me deeply. How can a large corporation let this kind of behavior occur?

By anon145457 — On Jan 23, 2011

I work for a state agency and am being harassed and discriminated against by management. I have gone to the union about what is going on but they say, "Management has the right to direct the workforce".

I am one of the oldest clerical people on staff and yet, instead of giving me jobs to help me excel they are giving me jobs to move me backward. I have worked for this agency for almost 10 years now and a new clerk was hired about two years ago as a "Wage position clerk" to come in and help get filing, work that needed done - done! She was moved into a position in our records department and given a desk and trained to do records stuff that I never had an opportunity to learn to do.

One particular manager who has said things about me in front of the executive employees is her boss, so anything I question about her is right away dismissed, as she is so busy because we just dumped everything on her. No one else was offered the opportunity to learn to do the job.

This past week, all four of the clerical personnel were in a meeting with management to be given specific duties to do and I was the only one who was given more than I am already doing. I also have been on the switchboard for the past nine years and have had to find my own relief for lunches and I don't get breaks like everyone else.

I can't get up and walk from one place to the other like the others and when I did ask management to set up a schedule for my lunches they refused to do it.

Our union president is also very rude to me when I question her about the way things are being divided among the clerical people. I will be attending our union meeting in February to voice my concerns.

By anon140862 — On Jan 08, 2011

I have a new supervisor who seems to think that I am the one to blame for some new changes in my department.

He always puts us down, and will verbally criticize us, in front of our customers. He is always being derogatory towards me, especially, because I am the manager of this establishment. I am scared that he will "cost" me my job, because my department won't stand behind me.

By anon134885 — On Dec 16, 2010

I am being harassed by a fellow female employee. She targets me, picks on me, criticizes me and berates me in front of other employees. Most of the time, she will seek me out and criticize me one on one.

I am the low person on our totem pole, where she is much higher authority. I have tried to ignore her, but she has me in tears at least once a week. It is surreal!

By anon133317 — On Dec 10, 2010

I am being harassed by my boss. When I came to work here three years ago, I had a close net working relationship with my boss, learning all

I could about my job.

My boss always told me what a great job I was doing and that I could take his place when her retires in a few years. He would take me out to lunch frequently and I always joined in when vendors took him out, he introduced me as who will be taking his place or who would be doing the ordering of chemicals. The other employees would pick on me about going to lunch and how he treated me different than them.

I finally told myself I would stop this by not accepting his lunch invitations anymore. When I did he changed. He wouldn't talk to me and even made comments like you and **** are getting to be buddies aren't we. This has been going on for almost two years. He has gotten to the point that everything I do he criticizes my procedure and makes comments to other employees. I have had enough. What can I do?

By anon131355 — On Dec 02, 2010

Help! I have been employed with the same organization for more than eight years, I have sat back and watched a new director destroy many employees. Now he's after me! What do I do?

I have had multiple "verbal" and one actual "written" write up for things that happen in my office all around me on a daily basis.

Over the past few months I have been give a performance review, in which I was noted for being above average, as well as an additional pay raise per my job description. Monday I was hit with a meeting with this director, my supervisor, and an HR rep that's in another state, in which I was read a letter stating that I was not meeting my job responsibilities and my behavior is inappropriate in the work environment! I am on the verge of getting fired! But why? What did I do that doesn't happen in my office on a daily basis!

This is supposed to be a Christian based organization, and I would be happy to announce that this department is far from that! I am now forced to search for a new job in fear of being fired.

I know that resigning from my position would definitely look much better on my resume than getting fired. I just hate the fact that I am allowing the harassers to win!

By anon126916 — On Nov 14, 2010

Four of my co-workers are very close friends with the boss. as a result, these four co-workers are allowed to surf the net all day, talk on the phone all day, read, sit in our boss's office talking and watching tv; have lunch with the boss and go out after work with the boss. you guessed it, the "friends" do no work. these co-workers don't even have the initiative to go look for work; they are that spoiled.

this has caused a lot of resentment and hostility in our workplace with the workers who do all the work. in fact, the boss "watches" the workers and subjects the workers to criticism. if anybody complains to the boss about her "friends", they are labeled "disgruntled", "troublemakers" and their job is threatened and the boss fiercely protects her "friends", telling any complainer that her "friends" are the hardest working bunch she has ever seen and how valuable these employees are to the company.

If jobs were easy to find, several of us would have quit a long time ago.

By anon109758 — On Sep 08, 2010

How do I handle this when the supervisor is the primary offender, creating a hostile work environment? His up-line supervisors "talks" to him about it when I bring it up to them; it subsides for a few days or even weeks, then pops right back up again. And, this is occurring in a federal agency. Oh, I've learned that the offender has been told that his boss's boss "doesn't want (me) to involve a lawyer."

By anon104147 — On Aug 15, 2010

Are constant reminders about the size of one's ears harassment, especially after telling the offending party it is harassment?

By anon97699 — On Jul 20, 2010

Let's not forget the reverse side of the issue, and that is that there are many who use the harassment laws as a bully pulpit, calling anything from an honest compliment to a confession of liking to be used as harassment. There are no doubt many out there who have had their careers derailed in this way. I know.

It happened to me when I told a woman I was working with that I was attracted. But it was not a sexual or physical type of attraction, and used no supporting adjectives when I came clean. Inasmuch as I got let go five weeks later, I never saw it coming and to this day feel that I was set up in a saga of greed, betrayal and jealousy thick enough to challenge a seasoned novelist.

Saddest of all is the fact that one really has no legal form of recourse without the benefit of a union or other contract. This is one thing I hope to see changed before my life is over.

I have already talked to three lawyers, and they all said that I didn't have a case, although I may have one for character defamation and/or emotional distress, as I have been much more withdrawn ever since. I have also had much difficulty finding new work, and wonder if I have been blacklisted.

By poundpuppy1 — On Jul 09, 2010

If a manager won't take action against harassment and report it, you can document it yourself with a tape recorder. Digital recorders are tiny and can easily fit in a pocket. Some are advanced enough that they will time stamp the recording to help document your case.

If managers dealing with internal politics bury your harassment claim, that too is against the law and those people higher up the corporate ladder can also be prosecuted.

By wecallherana — On Jul 08, 2010

In many harassment cases, charges are dismissed because there is a lack of evidence. Remembering this one fact can save your life and you should always talk to higher management when you feel you’re being harassed, even if you feel like they aren’t listening. If they refuse to document anything, do so yourself and you can save yourself a lot of heartache should the situation spin wildly out of control.

Documentation is the first step in a successful harassment case. You should also consider talking to family members about it, though maybe not other same-level coworkers. Being able to tell someone other than management is also a grounding factor that can help win your case.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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