Let’s Talk About Workplace Harassment

Being harassed is probably one of the worst experiences someone can go through. And it’s even worst when you’re mistreated in a place where you should go every day to get your monthly paycheck. No one should be subject to harassment, bullying, sexual violence, or any other inappropriate behavior in their workplace, whether it comes from a manager, colleague, or employer. Unfortunately, these cases are underreported – often because of retaliation, fear, shame, and when they are reported, they are not dealt with effectively. These incidents should not be taken for granted at any cost. They have severe repercussions and profound adverse effects such as harming workers’ health and safety and increasing absenteeism…


A Typical Day at Work Should Not Include Harassment

What does a typical day at work look like for you? You might be thinking about the boring machine coffee, a nice customer meeting, or the frustration when the copier is having trouble? Maybe you can be stressed between patient meetings or happy that the construction was completed on time? For many of us, it is a good day. For it is a day free from insults, sexual innuendos, or ostracism—a day when you do not have to worry about being harassed.

Harassment is any form of abusive behavior related to gender, gender identity or gender expression, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or other belief or age. Unfortunately, many people are subjected to daily harassment at their workplace, and we know that the problem is widespread. The fear of reporting and the ignorance or reluctance in employers has made it challenging to tackle the problem.


What Are Unreasonable Treatments?

Unreasonable treatment may appear as:

  • Bullying
  • Neglect
  • Downgrading or ignoring
  • insulation
  • Black painting of a person’s characteristics, character traits, or private life
  • Threat
  • Exceeding supervisory power or degrading treatment
  • Unilateral amendment of agreed terms
  • Discrimination or favoritism.

Unreasonable treatment may apply to the person or the work. The treatment often takes place systematically and is continued, but even occasional milder actions can be considered excessive. It can be verbal or non-verbal treatment, which occurs as gestures or faces.


Unreasonable Treatment Is Not:

  • documents that are part of the employer’s management power
  • normal decision-making that is part of the work or treatment of different interpretations
  • that the members of the work community sort out problems related to tasks or work
  • motivated discipline
  • to refer an employee to occupational health care.

Unreasonable treatment can also correspond to characteristics of harassment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002), harassment is an outrageous treatment that entails risks or inconveniences for the individual’s safety or health. The Gender Equality Act defines and prohibits harassment of a sexual nature and discrimination on the grounds of sex. The Discrimination Act prohibits harassment on age, religion, health status, ethnic origin, and disability. Harassment can intentionally offend a person or create a threatening, insulting, or tense atmosphere in the workplace.


Help With Workplace Guidelines

According to the law, the employer must intervene in unreasonable treatment as soon as possible when he has been informed of it. If the situation lasts for a long time, the exposed person’s health can be damaged, the work community is burdened, and job satisfaction deteriorates. It would be good to agree on intervention in collaboration with the entire workplace in uniform guidelines.


In the Guidelines, One Can Be Aware of:

  • what is and is not allowed in the workplace
  • what is considered appropriate and desirable behavior in the workplace and what, on the other hand, is not
  • how to act in a situation where someone feels unreasonably treated and how to resolve such a situation
  • who to turn to in problem situations.

The guidelines must be reviewed when a new employee is hired and treated together with the staff. In disturbance situations, you must also act per these guidelines.


Prevention of Unreasonable Treatment

When working to prevent unreasonable treatment, it is essential to create an open and reliable atmosphere. In preventive work, it is necessary to ensure that the work community functions and that there are no factors in the working conditions that can expose someone to bullying. Each member of the work community is responsible for job satisfaction and the atmosphere. Good work community skills are a fundamental part of today’s professional knowledge.


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