Workplace Harassment Essay

4191 Words Oct 12th, 2011 17 Pages
An Analysis of Workplace Harassment and Bullying in Today’s Society
Introduction
Workplace harassment and bullying occurs when an employee subjects another employee to degrading behaviour, whether verbal abuse and threats or actual physical violence. It is an inappropriate expression of power that affects workers and their productivity in an unfavourable way (Spry, 1998). Management, and other types of employees, who occupy high-status roles sometimes believe that harassing their subordinates is within their rights and make demands of the lower-status employees (Langton, Robbins, Judge, 2010, p. 313).
Harassment is often a result of stress, power, differences of opinion, undefined expectations of management, absent policies, and tasks
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Psychological Harassment
Psychological harassment related to the workplace is defined by Blaikie (2005) as “vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated conduct or verbal comments affecting an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical health, thus creating a harmful working environment for the employee”. Psychological harassment is intimidating, humiliating, or abusive behavior that is often hard to detect because it leaves no evidence other than the victim’s report or complaints. It can be caused by verbal comments, engineered episodes of intimidation, repeated gestures or aggressive actions.
Hammond (2011) presents a Canadian case in which Pierre Lebrun was being psychologically harassed because of a speech stutter. Lebrun was fired when he retaliated and slapped his harasser in the face. The company faced a wrongful dismissal case and had to rehire Lebrun. The harassment continued until Lebrun quit in 1999. Later that year, Lebrun wrote down names of people who had harassed him. He then entered the workplace with a gun, killing four people and wounding two others before turning the gun on himself. This is an extreme case, but it demonstrates that if psychological harassment in the workplace is not recognized and stopped, negative outcomes will result for both employees and employers.
Sexual Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulatory guidelines

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