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Harassment in the Workplace

Harassment in the workplace should be taken very seriously. It can take many forms and for the victim can be absolutely devastating. Like bullying there is a very fine line between teasing and harassment. Mostly it can be difficult to prove and generally the only way to escape it is by seeking new employment.

Harassment can come from a colleague or a line manager/employer. Harassment is usually very subtle to begin with, so you may not be aware that it can actually be defined as harassment or that it is actually happening to you. To begin with harassment may be shrugged off, but when the occasionally innuendo is replaced by pressing up close to you while you are at the photocopier under the pretence that there is insufficient room to manoeuvre, then there is no doubt that this is harassment unless of course the situation is by mutual consent. It should be pointed out here that it is not just men that are guilty of sexual harassment in the work place (to both women and other men), but women can be equally guilty of sexual harassment in the work place to both sexes.

Harassment at work can take other forms that may include making sure that only the most demeaning jobs are passed to you or you are seen as a scapegoat for the loss of contracts or inclement report from an inspection by an outside agency. The usual result is that it results in public humiliation.

There are usually many systems and strategies that are in place to deter harassment in the work place. This is usually through the form of in-house awareness training and written policies as well as government directives. However things can still go wrong. What happens if the instigator of the harassment is fact you line manager or employer? The only course of action here is to cut your losses and find alternative employment. If the company you work for is big enough to have its own Human Resources Department, then they should be your first contact for support.

But like bullying, nothing is solved quickly. Over a period of time confidence in ones abilities is stripped away and it affects your work and your life and relationships outside of the workplace. For the sake of your confidence and self-esteem, you need to balance whether the fight to stay in the employment and bring the perpetrator to justice is worth what it will cost you in the long term.