Blame it on Mad Men. Sure, there are seriously legitimate cases of workplace discrimination and sexual harassment around the office and they’re horrible and unfortunate, but the AMC hit show really shone a light on the awful toxic masculinity that dominated the business world throughout the past century. Let us be clear, it was never, ever okay to pat a female’s rear-end and call her “toots” or “sweetie” and walk away like you owned a brothel.
Without Mad Men and the courageous efforts of the #metoo movement, however, many of these cases wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Finally, as an enlightened society we are establishing a reasonable set of treatment toward co-workers in the office. We’re not entirely there yet. As The West Wing’s Ainsley Hayes once argued against the equal pay movement, she believed there shouldn’t need be a law signifying she should deserve such rights.
We’re entering one of the most significant presidential campaign elections in the U.S. right now – one that many argue will decide the fate of the LGBTQ movement, transgendered rights in the armed services, public toilet use and beyond. As Hayes argued (or as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin put words in her mouth), why does this even need to be a question?
Herein we enter the complex world of office space, personal and private. Here are seven different types of workplace harassment to beware of:
1. Personal Harassment
This is the most obvious of all the ways one can bother another. In school, it’s just simply called bullying. Pushing someone to do their job for them, get their coffee or other such injustices are far too often exploited by those who believe they have more power than you, often threatening your very coveted position in the company. These types of workplace harassment are just flat out wrong, and you should take it up with the boss. If, however, it is the boss, it may be time to find a better job. There is a whistleblower law, after all.
2. Physical Harassment
Yes, it can come from words, but shockingly, one of the most common types of workplace harassment involves potential bodily harm. For women, this is especially dangerous. When the alpha male of the company corners you in the break room, be sure to have some sort of protection. Some guy getting too touchy is not a pleasant scenario. For men, some jerk grabbing you by the tie and screaming at you is less terrifying, but it can cause psychological damage you don’t deserve.
3. Discriminatory Harassment
So you’re a woman. So you’re the only guy in an all-female workplace. No one has the right to use that against you if the case may be. At this point, you must speak up, get heard. This is far too common and the aggression, be it a less cut of the payoff or worse, should not stand. Empowerment is key, here. If you’re of a different race, it’s not like you’re a different species. People can be awful. Fight for your rights, and not just to party.
4. Psychological Harassment
These types of workplace harassment far too common and easily denied or covered up. It may leave scars in the mind when you’re belittled or put down. Often, you may not even realize it’s happening, so be wary of the top dog at the firm you work for who offers compliments with “buts” in them. They can be subtle. Workplace relations can be very much like dating – a verbal fencing game full of landmines. But don’t get set off too easily, one might accuse you of overreacting. Keep yourself in check as well.
Work doesn’t end, does it? Even at your home, you may start to get emails from a co-worker who starts to insult you or he posts things about you on Facebook about your stupidity. Or he or she discusses your body type/attitude. This can be especially cruel, because it goes on outside of the office. There’s no excuse for it, it’s just rotten to the core.
6. Sexual Harassment
We knew this would enter into it. For women, this is a nightmare. The guy patting your rear end is always in the wrong, unless invited to do so. And women often feel they don’t have the right to speak out, or feel like it’s their fault for being attractive. In the wake of #metoo, thankfully, this is coming out. But there’s always one Roger Ailes in a company. Shut that noise down. Speak up.
7. Third Party Harassment
This one is exceptionally devious, as it comes under the cover of someone not even working for the company. The complaints come in the form of suppliers, vendors, customers and other places. It’s cruel and especially manipulative. This is definitely one that is hard to keep track of. The source is often anonymous.