How to Deal With Workplace Harassment (For Employees and Employers)

workplace harassment

Harassment cases in the workplace are nothing new. Despite the laws and company policies against it, harassment persists in many workplaces worldwide. In Australia, what used to be one in five workers claiming to have gotten harassed at work in 2012 shot up to one in three workers in 2018. It has also been found in 2018 that 39% of Australian women and 26% of Australian men have been harassed at work in the past five years.

These alarming figures show that workers should always be prepared in case they face a problem. Even if you feel secure in your workplace, there’s a chance that you have a colleague or two that’s not. Take note of all these tips on dealing with harassment in the workplace and an employer’s responsibilities when it occurs:

Types of Harassment

Harassment isn’t limited to sexual harassment. Offensive jokes, intimidation, bullying, threats, physical assault, ridicule, discrimination, offensive photos, etc, are also forms of harassment, and anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can be a victim of it.

Some situations can be unclear as to whether they’re harassment or not. Still, if you find yourself in any of these situations or something similar below, then you’re also a victim of harassment:

  • A boss or co-worker characterizing an employee based on his/her race or ethnicity
  • An employee being restricted to a specific role because of their looks, regardless of their employment and educational background.
  • A boss or co-worker uttering suggestive remarks to a colleague

How to Deal With Harassment

When you feel harassed, you can first refer to your employee handbook to see what sanctions are laid out for harassment. You should also report the incident to your supervisor or to the human resources department. Provide a written complaint and keep a copy for yourself with proof that they’ve been received by the person you submitted it to.

When you make a written complaint, be specific as possible – include dates, times, places, things that were said and done by the perpetrator, and some witnesses. Keep the duplicate copy at home to be sure that your perpetrator won’t see it.

If the harassment persists despite your actions, file a complaint to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Townsville or other areas. Raising your concern to a lawyer is also advisable if you don’t trust your organization’s process.

How Employers Can Prevent Harassment

Employers should be very firm and clear about their policies against harassment. It would be helpful if you show different media demonstrating harassment while you train or orient your employees. When you put the company policies against harassment in writing, consult a lawyer first to have the policies reviewed, ensuring that every item in the policy is in accordance with the law.

Collaborate with the human resources department and training specialists to develop a training program that addresses workplace harassment. The program should be applicable to all employees, from rank and file to executives. It should also include steps in reporting harassment and how they should be investigated. Make the training sessions mandatory; provide compensation if necessary.

Act immediately when harassment is reported. Make sure human resources personnel is always available to respond to questions or complaints about harassment and remind all your employees that their full cooperation will be required if a harassment case is under investigation.

If sanctions for harassment are not yet included in your employee handbook, be sure to update it immediately. Hold the training sessions every year, and once a harassment incident has been reported, investigate thoroughly. If it’s been proven that the alleged perpetrator is guilty, make them liable and subject them to the corresponding sanctions.

Workplace harassment won’t likely cease to exist, but with preventive measures in effect, you can expose plenty of perpetrators and discourage others. Seek support from trustworthy friends and colleagues if you’ve been a victim, and never tolerate any unacceptable behavior if you’re an employer.