In South Africa, the labour laws are quite strict, which means that companies or organisations are keen to follow the rules in order to avoid penalties and lawsuits. For many, however, it is not clear what exactly workplace harassment actually entails, and because it is a fairly abstract concept, it does not always enjoy the attention it deserves.
While sexual harassment has been given a lot of attention over the last decade, workplace harassment in comparison can often be perceived as fairly unimportant, especially during cases where no sexual harassment took place, but workplace harassment did. Here we provide you with some valuable information about the different forms that workplace harassment can take.
Different Types of Workplace Harassment
- Work overload: Often, employers looking for ways to get rid of an employee can overwhelm them with work (within or outside of their job descriptions) in the hope that they will fail to perform, which gives the employer the ability to terminate their contracts or services.
- Unjustified criticism: Nobody responds well to negative criticism. Some employers may resort to constant criticism to reduce the self-image and confidence of an employee until they break them down to the point where they feel unable to perform their duties well. This form of criticism is often quite abstract and does not point out any particular failures; just a general disapproval of the way the employee goes about doing their job.
- Victimisation: One of the most common ways of victimising an employee is to degrade a person in front of their peers – whether turning down a suggestion during a meeting or openly sneering at the ability to do their job in front of others.
- Sexual orientation, gender, religion, or race: One of the mainstays of workplace harassment is based on one of these factors. Sometimes, people do not like working with people of different races, and, more commonly, people with different sexual orientation because they feel uncomfortable about it. They may degrade and criticise a person for completely irrelevant reasons in order to hide the root of their discomfort, but at the end of the day, their objective is to reduce and embarrass the person enough so that they leave.
- Spreading rumours: Spreading rumours about a person is sometimes a strategy of workplace harassment. Because the antagonist does not have control over the person in question, they try to influence the perception of others by providing them with information (true or untrue) about the person that may create a negative perception of the victim.
The fact is that all employees have to be treated, at all times, with dignity and fairness, and because workplace harassment is difficult to prove or quantify literally, people often engage in it. If you suspect workplace harassment in your company or you are an employee experiencing workplace harassment, give our team at CHA Group a call, and we can help you sort out these problems.