Handling Workplace Harassment: A Guide for Employees

It is often the case that the most commonly discussed type of harassment is sexual harassment. While it’s true that sexual harassment claims attract a lot of media attention, there is much more to the issue of workplace harassment than many people realise. In fact, many people may have suffered harassment in the workplace without even been aware of it. Harassment can result in a hostile workplace which prevents employees from reaching their full potential. This guide introduces you to what workplace harassment is, how you can take action if you think you have been a victim, and how to handle losing your job as a result.

What is Workplace Harassment?

It is difficult to define workplace harassment because it can relate to a wide variety of personal characteristics and these can be verbal or physical in form. Often, harassment is a form of discrimination based on a person’s sex, race or religion but this is by no means the whole story. Harassment is also defined differently depending on where you live in the world.

Sexual harassment may refer to inappropriate and unwanted comments or questions, physical behaviour or conduct such as sending sexually explicit emails or images in the workplace. Sexual harassment can occur between two people of the same sex as well as people of opposite sexes and can be deemed as discriminatory against a person’s gender, sex or sexual orientation.

Of course, harassment is not always sexual in nature as it can be related to another characteristic such as age, race, religious background, skin colour, disability, mental health, weight or even a person’s past such as having a criminal record. When conduct in the workplace inhibits an employee’s ability to perform successfully and/or creates a hostile workplace environment, it can be classified as harassment.

Filing a Harassment Claim

If you believe you have been the victim of harassment in the workplace, you may be entitled to make a claim against your employer. Unfortunately, many people file false harassment claims against their employer which is why it’s important to consult with employment lawyers before proceeding. With legal advice you can present your case with the proper evidence and ensure it is given the attention it deserves.

Resigning from Your Job

If you choose to resign from your job, it’s essential that you do so with care and professionalism. Even if you have been treated unfairly, leaving without giving the correct amount of notice and/or without another role lined up could have negative consequences for you. The manner of your resignation could be very important should you file a claim against the employer for harassment.

What to Do if You are Fired from Your Job

If you believe that your harassment claim has led to being laid off or fired, you need to try and remain calm. You will be understandably frustrated and your mind buzzing with questions, but making rash emotional choices may only make the situation more complex. Instead, talk to an employment lawyer about your options to ensure you fully understand your employee rights and what steps you can take if you have been wrongfully dismissed.

Be mindful that during your next job interviews you will likely be asked questions about why you left your previous job. Whether you left willingly or were fired, be sure to handle the subject sensitively and professionally.