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Types of Workplace Harassment (and How to Prevent Them)

Types of Workplace Harassment (and How to Prevent Them)

There are many types of workplace harassment and so many interpretations, that even the most diligent manager could miss the warning signs. Though sometimes difficult to spot, discrimination in the workplace needs to be dealt with as soon as it become clear. 


Take a look at the different types of discrimination in the workplace so you are better equipped to help a victim, file a harassment complaint and implement office training to create a better workspace for everyone.

Offensive jokes, critical remarks, inappropriate comments, personal humiliations and other forms of bullying are all types of personal harassment in the workplace. Though not illegal, they are still damaging to the victim and the company.

Putting down and belittled a colleague on a personal or professional level can affect a person’s psychological well-being. This can be detrimental to the victims work life and health, creating a domino effect or downward spiral.

Unwanted sexual behaviour, conduct and advances are all forms of unlawful discrimination that are taken very seriously by the the courts. This type of harassment in the workplace can negatively impact the victims life and create a hostile working environment.

Quid Pro Quo
If a promotion or pay increase is offered for sexual favors, this equates to quid pro quo sexual harassment in the workplace. This is also a form of blackmail, but can be difficult to spot due to it’s subtle nature.

Spreading gossip, lies and humiliating information about a colleague is cyberbullying. Though the Federal Law doesn’t yet cover cyberbullying, the Department of Justice note that legal action is possible for online misbehaviour. 

Commonly known as ‘workplace violence’, physical harassment covers destroying property, direct threats of harm, threatening behaviour and actual attacks. Playful shoving can sometimes blur the line between appropriate or not, since it’s the person on the receiving end who decides whether the behavior makes them uncomfortable.

Unlike physical or verbal, discriminatory harassment is defined by its intention. This covers race, gender, religion, sexual-orientation, age and disability. Bullying a member of these protected classes are more recognizable forms of discriminatory harassment.

By bullying a victim in a lower position in the office hierarchy, power harassment can be characterized by a manager victimizing their workers. This can include demeaning tasks, intrusion into an employee’s personal life and impossible to meet demands.

Third Party
This type of harassment occurs when someone from outside the organization, be it a customer, supplier or client of the company, makes unwanted advances or abuses a worker. This type of harassment can sometimes remain unnoticed but is just as damaging to the company. 

Often overlooked, retaliation is still a form of workplace harassment that needs to be stopped. A revenge complaint against a previous victim of harassment can sometimes be common place to stop the victim from complaining again.

All employers may want to maintain records on employee harassment training to avoid claims of non-compliance. If training is mandated, failure to provide it as required will make an employer much more vulnerable to liability should an employee sue in court for sexual harassment. Where unlawful sexual harassment is found, ignoring the training mandates opens up an employer to punitive damages, which are often several times greater than the employee’s compensatory damages.

For further information and training on this delicate but important matter, please call us at (866) GO-VUBIZ or (866) 468-8249 or email us at