Employer abuse comes in many forms and doesn’t happen exclusively at the office during regular business hours. The victims are significantly affected, but an abusive employer may not realize the harm inflicted upon the workplace. An abusive workplace is likely to suffer from low morale, which negatively impacts the staff’s productivity and company’s profits.
Harassment is a form of discrimination and involves offensive verbal or nonverbal conduct. Victims of discrimination aren’t always the ones personally harassed. Anyone who is negatively affected by the words or actions is also a victim of the abuse. There are many kinds of harassment, but some of the most common include discrimination based on someone’s age, disability, race, ethnicity and religion. Some examples of employer harassment and abuse include using derogatory words about an employee’s race, making fun of workers who are over a certain age and paying employees who practice a certain religion less.
Men and women both think about sex often throughout the day and with many companies now allowing romantic relations between employees, sexual tension is bound to be present in most workplaces. However continued unwelcomed sexual behaviors become sexual harassment and create a sexually hostile work environment. Employers who stare excessively in a sexual manner, send nude or partly nude pictures, gently pat or rub an employee in a sexual way, tell sexual jokes or make sexual advances are engaging in sexual harassment and abuse if the receiver feels uncomfortable, humiliated or threatened.
Around two million people every year report being victims of workplace violence -- it’s safe to assume that many more cases go unreported. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace” and the fourth-leading cause of workplace deaths overall regardless of gender. If an employer performs any kind of physical harassment and assault or engages in physically disruptive and violent behavior such as throwing chairs or other office equipment -- that is violence and abuse. It is also considered workplace violence is an employer physically threatens or intimates employees verbally.
Many employees may feel intimidated by their boss or fear losing their job, so they fail to take action. However take comfort in knowing that your employer is required by law to provide a safe and healthy workplace. Also if you experience employer abuse, your coworkers are probably victims or likely to become victims as well. Therefore, it’s important to take the necessary steps to make sure the abuse is documented and resolved. If the abuse continues after your efforts, find employment elsewhere. You need to protect your safety and well-being.
Sydney Neely has worked in the education arena for more than 10 years, teaching general education, the arts, communication and finance. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from Arizona State University. Neely also holds several state and federal financial licenses in life insurance and investments (Series 6 and 63).