Fact Checked

What is the Best Way to Handle Harassment Issues?

Angela Crout-Mitchell
Angela Crout-Mitchell

If a situation of harassment occurs, it is very important for the offended party to be aware of their rights, the school's or workplace's liability, and the proper procedures to follow to seek fair treatment. Harassment issues may be related to a number of factors such as age, race, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, as well as traditional sexual harassment in regards to unwanted advances and comments from a co-worker, classmate, or superior. Other types of harassment include actions and attacks against people with disabilities and specific nationalities. In order to best handle harassment issues, a person should know how to prevent harassment, common harassment complaints, and how to report the problem to the correct authorities.

Most experts agree that the best way to handle harassment issues is to avoid and prevent them in the first place. Naturally, there is no way to control all people and elements, especially in diverse populations such as in the work place and in schools. Education has been shown to be very effective in reducing these types of incidents. In some cases, offenders may not be aware that their actions and attitudes are hurtful or traumatic to someone else. Distributing information and providing harassment education seminars and classes may be enough to deter this type of negative behavior.

A boss yelling at an employee.
A boss yelling at an employee.

In the event that harassment issues become a problem, it is important for the harassed individual to learn the extent of the liability of the school or business where the harassment is taking place. In most regions, it is the responsibility of the business or school to provide a safe, harassment free place for all students and employees. If the harassment is instigated by a supervisor, the company is usually considered to be legally responsible. Employers are expected to investigate the harassment claims and take appropriate action pending their investigation. It is helpful for the harassed person to obtain a copy of the organization's harassment policy so they can be sure to act within the guidelines provided.

Harassment issues can result in high levels of stress for the person under emotional or physiological attack. It is not uncommon for people to try to live with the harassment and do nothing, instead of reporting the problem. The chain of responsibility usually starts with the person's direct supervisor, unless the supervisor is the one engaging the harassing behavior. If that is the case, the plaintiff should report the abuse to the next highest supervisor in the command hierarchy. It is not uncommon for different organizations to have unique policies, and those procedures should be accessible to every employee for reference if needed.

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Discussion Comments


It depends on the kind of harassment you're talking about. Workplace harassment is one thing, and is covered under a definite set of laws. If you've got crazy neighbors, to me, the best thing to do is to see if you can find a sympathetic attorney who can slap a civil suit on them.

Sometimes, the inconvenience of having to deal with the suit will stop the harassment, but if it doesn't, let them explain to a judge why they are doing what they're doing. Just make sure you've got everything -- and I mean *everything* -- documented.


Even though I hate conflict, I will not tolerate harassment. I think that's part of the issue: the harasser is usually a bully, and they can continue the harassment because they think they have the power and control.

Yes, I hate conflict, but I'm also a forthright person, and I'm apt to just say, "What's your problem?" if diplomacy has been ineffective. Sometimes, just letting the perpetrator know you're aware of what's going on is enough to make it stop. It does take some intestinal fortitude to step up and say it, but once you do, the harassment may stop. If it intensifies, then you may have more grounds for official action.

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      A boss yelling at an employee.