1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Harassment at Work

How to Deal With Harassment at Work


There are a variety of ways employees can be harassed at work. Sexual harassment is one of the primary ways that workers are harassed on the job, but there are also non-sexual types of harassment that can occur in the workplace.

Here is information on what constitutes harassment at work and how to handle it if you are being harassed.

Types of Harassment

Man Touching a Businesswoman's Shoulder
Ryan McVay / Photodisc / Getty Images

There are a variety of types of harassment that can occur in the workplace. Harassment, verbal or physical, based on sex, religion, or race is unlawful and also a form of workplace discrimination. Here's more on the types of harassment that can take place at work.

Sexual Harassment

Copyright Jack Star / Getty Images
Sexual harassment is the most prevalent form of workplace harassment. It includes any uninvited comments, conduct, or behavior regarding sex, gender, or sexual orientation. Whether the offense is made by a manager, co-worker, or even a non-employee like a client, contractor, or vendor, if the conduct creates a hostile work environment it is considered unlawful sexual harassment.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Copyright Niko Guido
Sexual harassment isn't limited to making inappropriate advances. In fact, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome verbal or physical behavior that creates a hostile work environment. Even sending inappropriate images to a co-worker can be considered harassment - it doesn't have to be personal or involve physical contact. Here are some examples of what could be considered sexual harassment in the workplace.

Non-Sexual Harassment

Copyright Doxa Digital Productions

Harassment in the workplace and in hiring isn't limited to sexual harassment. Other actions and comments regarding religion, race, age, gender, or skin color, for example, may also be considered harassment, if an employee isn't hired because of one of these facts, of if the harassment interferes with an employee's success or creates a hostile work environment.

Examples of Non-Sexual Harassment

Copyright Erich Spieldiener
Non-sexual harassment includes any comment, action, or type of behavior that is threatening, insulting, intimidating or discriminatory and upsets the workplace environment. It can include comments about religion, race, ethnicity or age. Sharing inappropriate images or jokes or making offensive comments may all be considered harassment - even if they are not specifically directed at a certain individual.

Hostile Work Environment

Copyright Getty Images Keith Brofsky
A hostile work environment is created as a result of harassment by a co-worker, a supervisor or manager, a contractor, client, vendor, or visitor. In addition to the person who was directly harassed, other employees who are impacted by the harassment (by hearing or viewing it) are also considered victims of harassment. There are laws protecting workers from having to work in a hostile work environment.

How to Handle Harassment at Work

Copyright Getty Images Jeremy Maude
What can you do if you have been harassed at work? Here is information on the types of harassment in the workplace and how to handle harassment issues, including who to talk to if you are being harassed, filing a harassment claim, interview advice if you've lost your job, and what to do if you have been fired.

How to File a Harassment Claim

Copyright Phil Date

If you feel like you've been a victim of workplace harassment, it is important to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).   Before you file the claim, educate yourself to insure that the incident actually counts as harassment.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.