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Harassment in the Workplace

How to Handle Workplace Harassment Issues


Yoli, an unemployed job seeker, describes the harassment in her workplace, "In these nearly 13 years I was verbally, emotionally, physically, and unlawfully abused but I could not tell anyone because I did not want to have my family worry about us and could not afford to lose my job."

Another job seeker says he was harassed so much by a new manager he was forced to quit.

From another harassment perspective, Chima says, "I was accused of harassing employees, but the truth was I was the victim of lies and gossip and when I confronted the gossipers, I was accused of harassing them, although it seems to me I was the one being harassed as a victim of gossip."

Harassment can not only cost an employee their job, but it can also make job searching difficult. If you were fired like Chima, laid-off like Yoli, forced to resign, or quit because of harassment it can complicate your job search. References may be hard to get and it can be difficult to explain the circumstances of why you lost your job during a job interview.

Here is information on the types of harassment in the workplace and how to handle harassment issues, including filing a harassment claim, interview advice if you've lost your job, and what to do if you have been fired.

Types of Harassment

Man ogling women
Laurence Monneret / The Image Bank / Getty Images

There are a variety of types of harassment that can occur in the workplace. Workplace harassment, whether it be verbal or physical badgering based on sex, religion, or race, is unlawful and also a form of discrimination.

Sexual Harassment

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Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination, and 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 or interrupts an employee's success, it is considered unlawful sexual harassment.

Non-Sexual Harassment

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Harassment in the workplace and in hiring isn't limited to sexual harassment. Other actions regarding religion, race, age, gender, or skin color, for example, can also be considered harassment if they interfere with an employee's success or conjure a hostile work environment.

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.

How to Resign From Your Job

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Even if you're being harassed, it's important to resign as professionally as you can from your job. Give adequate notice to your employer, write a formal resignation letter, and be prepared to move on prior to submitting your resignation.  Plan your resignation carefully, because it could have legal consequences if you file a harassment claim.

How to Handle a Lay-Off

Copyright Cat London

What should you do when you receive notice of a layoff? What's the best way of surviving a layoff? First of all, you should check with your company on the benefits you may be entitled to when you leave. It's important to be informed about your employee rights, so you are clear on where you stand when you lose your job.

What to Do When You're Fired

Copyright Marek Slusarczyk

You have been, or are about to be, fired from your job. Are you eligible for unemployment? What happens if you have been wrongfully discharged? What do you say in your cover letters and in job interviews? Here's what you need to know about employee rights when you are fired or otherwise terminated from employment.

How to Handle Illegal Interview Questions

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Federal and state laws prohibit prospective employers from asking certain questions that are not related to the job they are hiring for. Questions should be job-related and not used to find out personal information.   In a nutshell, employers should not be asking about your race, gender, religion, marital status, age, disabilities, ethnic background, country of origin, sexual preferences or age.  Here's what to do if you're asked inappropriate interview questions.

Be Prepared to Answer Interview Questions

Copyright Michael DeLeon

If you have left or lost your job because of harassment, be prepared to answer questions about why you left your job.  Take the time to review the common interview questions you will most likely be asked. Also review sample answers to these typical interview questions.


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