Personal Harassment: What Is It, Examples, Lawsuit & Workplace

personal harassment

Personal harassment is behavior that is known or should reasonably be understood to be undesirable. It is behavior that is threatening, degrading, or abusive and may be accompanied by direct or implicit threats to status, employment, or career. Personal harassment can take many different forms, making the workplace uncomfortable and restricting employee engagement and/or goal-setting. This can get so bad that the person starts to fear or avoid going to work and thinks about switching professions or occupations. As we go down we’ll find out more about the 5Ds of harassment, psychological harassment, and the three types and example of harassment.

Bullying, exclusion, shunning, and other uncivil behavior are all examples of personal harassment. While not falling under one of the protected grounds listed in the BC Human Rights Code, this is inappropriate and unpleasant behavior that is unacceptable in a university setting.

What are The Three Types of Personal Workplace Harassment?

Regrettably, even the most knowledgeable HR experts occasionally fail to recognize the various indications and forms of workplace personal harassment. One is that it is nearly impossible to monitor everything that all of your staff are doing. Also, each employee has a different definition of what it means to act professionally at work.

For instance, one worker may think it’s completely OK to use profanity in casual talks with coworkers, while another may believe it’s never acceptable and finds it quite insulting.

It can be difficult for HR professionals to put themselves in the position of all employees and recognize every action that a reasonable person would say crosses the line into harassment – and that goes double for your employees. This is because one of the ways the EEOC defines workplace harassment is by creating a hostile work environment.

Here are three types of personal harassment in the workplace, to assist you to teach your staff how to stop it.

#1. Oral and written

The most evident among the three types of personal workplace harassment is verbal or written. It is the most frequently encountered. Here are some scenarios in which it might happen:

  • Sending emails with harmful racial or religious jokes or imagery
  • Demanding dates or sexual favors repeatedly, either in person or via text
  • Enquiring about medical or genetic issues in the family
  • Making snide remarks about a person’s infirmity or age
  • Pretending to have someone else’s foreign accent
  • These days, technology is the main thing to be on the lookout for. For instance, even if the initial sender had no intention of doing so if one person forwarded an email that had a pornographic image, it may spread to the point where everyone in the workplace saw it. 

#2. Physical

Physical harassment is next among the three types of harassment. It can occasionally be quite subtle, making it a little tougher to spot.

  • Lewd hand motions or other motions used to express profanity
  • Unwanted physical contact with a person or their attire
  • Regularly following or purposefully approaching someone too closely
  • Using facial gestures that are sexually explicit
  • Playing music that uses vulgar or abusive words
  • In many cases, harassment doesn’t even have to be directed at the target.

As an illustration, if two coworkers are fooling around and one of them makes an inappropriate hand gesture and someone other observes it, they may feel uncomfortable and even harassed.

#3. Visual

Visual is perhaps the most subjective and difficult to identify among the three types of harassment. This is because it demands you to put yourself in the other person’s position.

  • Wearing attire that contains rude phrases
  • Displaying sexually explicit posters, images or emails to others
  • Watching violent or obscene videos
  • Creating obscene or violent images
  • For instance, while most individuals would find a comic strip placed at a workstation hilarious, someone else might find the joke offensive and claim that it’s fostering a hostile work environment.
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What is an Example of Personal Harassment?

An example of personal harassment is sexual harassment.
When someone acts sexually or romantically toward someone who does not want this attention, it is referred to as “sexual harassment.”

Sexual harassment also includes actions when the victim is threatened with losing their employment or promised something in exchange for complying with a request.

Instances of additional sexual harassment include:

  • Hints made specifically for a person.
  • The need to engage in sexual activities.
  • Remarks are made concerning a person’s appearance or attire.
  • Unwanted letters, calls, emails, notes, or gifts.
  • Data requests that are not desired.
  • Inappropriate statements or physical contact.

What is The Most Common Form of Personal Harassment?

In businesses across the United States, including those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, workplace personal harassment is a widespread issue. Several forms of workplace personal harassment are forbidden. You should be able to identify the many sorts of workplace harassment and be aware of the illegal ones. Discriminatory harassment is one of the most prevalent forms of workplace harassment.

Discriminatory Harassment

When someone harasses another person because the victim belongs to a protected class, that is considered discriminatory harassment. State and federal law both prohibit workplace harassment that is motivated by a person’s protected characteristics. We’ll go into more detail about a few of the various forms of discriminatory harassment below.

Harassment based on race

Harassment that targets a victim based on that person’s skin tone, race, heritage, or citizenship status is known as racial harassment. The mere perception that the harassment is based on racial bias is enough to fall under the definition of unlawful racial harassment. Slurs, insults, racist jokes, humiliating remarks, racial disgust, and other actions can all be considered forms of racial harassment.

Gender-based harassment

When coworkers, managers, or other individuals treat a victim unfairly at work because of the victim’s gender, this is known as gender harassment. Gender harassment frequently takes place as a result of unfavorable perceptions about how men and women ought to behave. Gender prejudice affects both men and women.

Religion-based harassment

Although it occasionally overlaps with racial harassment, religious harassment focuses more on the victim’s religious convictions. Religious intolerance can take the form of disrespect for the victim’s attire, holidays, and rituals. Negative jokes about religion, insulting remarks, and pressure to change one’s religion can also be included.

Disability-based harassment

It is unlawful to harass a worker at work because of a real or imagined disability. The use of disability services or a worker’s relationship with a disabled person is both grounds for discrimination against that individual. Joking, patronizing conduct, isolation, and a failure to make necessary modifications are all examples of disability harassment.

Harassment based on sexual orientation

Sexual orientation-based workplace harassment is becoming more widely known. When a victim experiences harassment as a result of having a different sexual orientation than those around them, happens. Any sexual orientation might be the target of this kind of abuse. For instance, a heterosexual male might experience harassment because he works as a hairstylist, whereas a homosexual man might experience harassment. After all, he works in construction.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination against workers who are 40 years of age or older depending on their age. The Statute Against Discrimination in New Jersey forbids employers from discriminating against workers of any age based on their age. Insults, taunting, harsh criticism, and exclusion from meetings or events because of a worker’s age are all examples of age-related harassment.

Read Also: Leave Of Absence Policy: How It Works.

What is Psychological Harassment?

An unethical or harmful response to a circumstance or style of acting toward a person is psychological harassment or mobbing.

Psychological harassment is described as unpleasant or hostile conduct by one or more people directed against a third party either directly or indirectly. This type of behavior takes place regularly and methodically over an extended length of time to attack or demean a person, isolating or excluding them, and gradually ejecting them from their place of employment or educational setting. The term psychological harassment describes a string of behaviors that, when taken separately, may seem harmless but, when repeated, hurt the person being targeted.

Many behaviors can constitute psychological harassment, including actions that are meant to interfere with a person’s ability to speak, such as interrupting or yelling at them repeatedly to stop them from expressing themselves.

Intentionally damaging social interactions For instance, refusing to welcome someone, not saying hello, ignoring them, or acting in a way that isolates or excludes them. Attacks on a person’s reputation, such as making offensive statements, spreading stories about them, or mocking or humiliating them. Actions committed with the intent to lower a person’s quality of life, performance, or career For instance, a person may be given obnoxious, incorrect, or inappropriate responsibilities; receive unwarranted criticism, or not be given vital tasks. Actions meant to endanger someone’s health For instance, overloading someone with work, threatening them, or using physical force against them.

What are The 5Ds of Harassment?

What could be worse than being the target of identity-based harassment? Whether it concerns your size, age, or disability you have, or whether it has to do with your ethnicity, color, religion, or immigration status. What’s worse than being harassed in public, though, is being amid a crowd of onlookers who witness the harassment but do nothing to stop it.

The 5Ds of harassment are various strategies you can employ to help someone who is being harassed, stress that harassment is unacceptable, and show the people in your life that they can make their community safer. The 5Ds of harassment are Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.

These 5Ds of harassment can be used by anyone! They are made to be secure and prevent situations from getting worse. Four of them involve indirect forms of action.

How to intervene and stay safe using the 5Ds of Harassment

The five dimensions of bystander intervention each stand for a distinct approach to assistance:


Use a deceptive strategy to divert attention from the harasser and get them to quit.

For instance, if you notice someone being harassed on the metro, strike up a discussion with them to divert attention from the harasser. You can utilize phrases like “pardon me, do you know where the station closest to X Street is?” or “Wow, that dress is gorgeous! How did you get it?


If you don’t feel comfortable intervening yourself, seek assistance from someone else—typically someone in a position of authority, including store managers and teachers.

Nevertheless, think twice before dialing 911! They exacerbate the situation, and it frequently has a negative outcome, particularly for members of visible minorities, undocumented immigrants, and those who struggle with language. Always ask the person being harassed if they would prefer that you call the police.


Document the occurrence if someone is already assisting so that there is evidence of it. taking screenshots, videos, pictures, etc. When you’re finished, ask the person you’re targeting what they want to do with it; it’s not up to you to make that decision.


Ask the individual who was subjected to the disrespectful behavior how they are feeling and if they need anything once the situation has ended.

Do you need anything? Would you like me to accompany you on your walk? Would you like me to stay here for a while? so forth.


When disrespectful behavior occurs, call it out. There are three methods to accomplish that:

  • Declare the behavior to be racist.
  • Name your observation: “She seems uneasy. Why don’t you just let her be?
  • Pose a question such as, “What do you mean by saying ‘Chinese virus’?” to provide the harasser a chance to comprehend their unwanted behavior and self-correct.

How Do You Deal With Someone Harassing You?

You need to learn how to defend yourself if someone is persistently threatening you, stalking you, making sexual approaches, or refusing to leave you alone. Begin by expressing your disapproval of the action and requesting that the person stop. Consider taking action, such as involving the police and stepping up your security, if the harassment doesn’t stop. To stop your harasser from approaching you, you might need to request a restraining order in certain situations.

Personal harassment

A type of workplace harassment known as “personal harassment” is not based on a protected class (such as race, gender, or religion).

Personal harassment examples

Inappropriate or insulting jokes, racial or ethnic slurs, demands for dates or sexual favors, unwanted remarks regarding a person’s faith or religious attire, and unpleasant graffiti, cartoons, or images are a few examples of harassment.

Personal harassment lawsuit

Personal harassment is any rude or inappropriate behavior directed towards another person that the perpetrator knew or should have known that it would be offensive or undesired.


Confront the harasser if you are being harassed at work. This might be sufficient to cease the behavior in some circumstances. Use the internal complaints procedure within your company if that doesn’t resolve the issue. This should be done in writing, and you should preserve a copy of your complaint as well as evidence of every instance of harassment. Speak with an expert attorney if the harassment was unlawful and your employer did not adequately address your complaint.


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