Common Harassment Scenarios
In the previous lesson, we discussed that harassment can include:
- Name calling.
- Physical assault
There are other types of harassment:
The following are common harassment scenarios that may be encountered in a workplace. Each scenario explains some possible outcomes, but some of these situations are not cut and dried. Try and decide the different possible outcomes and what kind of harassment may occur.
Situation: A supervisor is attracted to a subordinate and believes the feelings are mutual.
Appropriate Action: Dating between a supervisor and a direct report is sometimes prohibited in certain organizations. Check the company policy. Even if it is acceptable, tread carefully because any unwelcome advances can be perceived as harassment and it could be seen as a quid pro quo situation.
Situation: A workplace is so casual that employees swear, call each other names, make crude jokes, and constantly tease each other.
Appropriate Action: If anyone in the area seems slightly uncomfortable by these behaviors there is a problem. The supervisor needs to set some rules for acceptable behavior before it turns into a hostile work environment.
Situation: An employee occasionally shares personal emails with his co-workers. These emails are usually humorous but occasionally are racist or sexist.
Appropriate Action: Some co-workers may not be bothered by this material, but it does not belong in the workplace and anyone in the area could see them and be offended. This would be labeled as a hostile work environment scenario.
Situation: A potential employee interviews for a new position. The hiring manager hints that he will hire this person and they should go out for drinks and celebrate. While at the bar, the manager offers the job, but only if the potential employee sleeps with him.
Appropriate Action: This is a very clear cut example of quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Situation: An employee wears a turban to work every day and has many religious pictures and knickknacks in his cubicle. His co-workers feel uncomfortable, but he does not discuss or push his religion on them. Some of his co-workers have started talking behind his back and bullying him.
Appropriate Action: There is no doubt that this is a hostile work environment, but the problem is not so clear. Bullying cannot be tolerated, but we should also address the catalyst. Some companies have policies in place related to personal items at work. In general, it is best to keep political and religious items at home.