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The Common Types of Workplace Harassment You Should Know About

Workplace harassment is a pervasive issue that affects many employees but often goes unnoticed and unreported. It can create a toxic and uncomfortable work environment, leading to decreased productivity and employee satisfaction.

Let us understand the common forms of workplace harassment that everyone should be aware of, along with the appropriate actions to take when encountering such situations. Remember, consulting an employment attorney is important if you have been harassed in the workplace.

Understanding Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment occurs when employees feel threatened or belittled by their coworkers, whose primary intention is to make their target/ victim feel unsafe and uncomfortable. It is also known by various other names, such as workplace bullying, mobbing, workplace aggression, etc.

Workplace harassment can happen to anyone, irrespective of their gender, age, race, country, etc.

There is no one way of addressing workplace harassment, as it has various forms and several multitude to it. Let us look into the various types of workplace harassment to understand them better.

Types of Workplace Harassment

  1. Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment involves demeaning words, offensive gestures, destructive criticisms, etc. It includes insults such as body-shaming jokes, hurtful comments, and taunting. This form of harassment is often challenging to recognize as it doesn’t involve physical violence and can be easily masked as a ‘joke’ or ‘fun.’

  1. Psychological Harassment

Psychological harassment is similar to verbal harassment but more covert. It involves various tactics, like

  • Withholding information
  • Taking credit for others’ achievements
  • Finding unnecessary fault in their work
  • Not giving credit out of jealousy
  • Making unreasonable demands
  • Imposing impossible deadlines
  • Forcing employees to work outside their job scope
  • Making others do their tasks
  • Blaming others for their mistakes

Victims of psychological harassment often suffer from confusion, mental breakdowns, and low self-esteem.

  1. Digital Harassment 

Digital harassment, or cyberbullying, compared to the other two, is a relatively new form of harassment. It occurs online and can be as derogatory as physical bullying. It involves using social media platforms to

  • Pose threats
  • Blackmail
  • Post demeaning comments
  • Create fake accounts to bully others
  • Impersonate

One advantage here is that victims can document digital harassment through screenshots and saved emails, making it easier to report while consulting an employment attorney.

  1. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a heinous crime that is more common than one might think. It is not limited to any gender or age; anyone can be a victim or perpetrator. It involves

  • Unwanted and inappropriate touching
  • Sending obscene messages and videos
  • Demanding sexual favors
  • Making vulgar gestures

Sadly, these incidents often go unnoticed and unreported due to fear of unemployment, dignity, fear of what others will think, etc., allowing offenders to escape without facing the consequences.

  1. Physical Harassment

Physical harassment happens in various forms, including improper touching of clothing or skin, physical assaults, threats, or damage to personal property.

Gender minorities, racial/ ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA+ individuals, etc. are more likely to face this type of harassment at work. Sometimes, these harassments are downplayed as jokes, making it challenging to identify them.

In cases where physical harm is involved, employees should file a complaint and take strict action against the offenders.

Reporting Workplace Harassment

Reporting workplace harassment is crucial to ensuring the safety and well-being of employees.

One can take various approaches to resolve the issue, including having a one-on-one conversation or asking them to stop their behavior (in the case of verbal, psychological, or cyberbullying).

In case of sexual or physical harassment, one should immediately take action and contact the concerned person, such as HR or other higher officials.

Providing evidence can also aid in the investigation. In any case, if one feels their organization hasn’t taken the right step, consider involving external authorities who can make impartial decisions.


Maintaining a harassment-free workplace is essential for promoting a healthy and productive environment. Recognizing and addressing workplace harassment is the responsibility of all employees and organizations. By taking the appropriate steps to report and combat harassment, we can create a workplace where everyone feels safe and valued.