Workplace intimidation is intentionally and maliciously causing an employee or coworker to feel inadequate or afraid. This includes verbal threats, unjust criticisms, sabotage of a person's work or supplies, sexual harassment, and physical violence. Actions like these erode the confidence of employees and affects their ability to do their jobs. In many places, it is punishable by fines and imprisonment, and businesses may also be held liable if they do not respond appropriately. Those who feel they are being subjected to workplace intimidation can get help from managers and law enforcement.
Verbal abuse is one of the most common types of workplace intimidation. This includes constantly putting down coworkers or employees, threatening others, or repeatedly making disgusting, offensive, or inappropriate remarks. Workplace bullies are often jealous of the accomplishment of others, and try to make their work more difficult by insulting and threatening them. Even when no physical harm is administered, verbal abusers can cause significant emotional stress, and make an employee feel uncomfortable and scared to go to work.
Some office bullies sabotage the equipment or accomplishments of other workers. They might erase important computer documents, spread false rumors about another worker, or steal essential supplies from a person's workplace. When such acts of sabotage go unnoticed by management, the victim is often punished instead of the bully. Some managers also sabotage their underlings by unfairly denying them promotions or bonuses, intentionally giving them work that's very unpleasant or boring, or giving them incomplete instructions to ensure that they fail at project.
Sexual harassment consists of inappropriate sexual comments, the display of offensive materials, or physically touching another worker in a sexual manner. It can come from men or women, and be directed at either sex. It can result in depression when the victim feels helpless to find a solution to the problem.
Ongoing violent acts in the workplace are uncommon, but when this type of workplace intimidation occurs, the results can be devastating. A worker that is tripped, shoved or hit frequently at work can experience physical injuries and psychological pain. In addition, the expectation of future attacks can severely limit a worker's productivity and enjoyment of his or her job.
Businesses can be held at fault for not responding appropriately to reports of harassment or intimidation, so it is important to ensure that in-house procedures are in place to deal with workplace bullying and that employees are aware of them. In many places, businesses have a legal obligation to do certain things in response to any claim of workplace intimidation, regardless of whether it is true or not. This generally includes things like keeping certain types of documentation and reporting claims to government anti-discrimination agencies. Anti-bullying and anti-discrimination organizations often provide training and workshops to help businesses know what to do in case of claims.
People who believe they have been harassed or intimidated at their jobs can take several steps. The first time the behavior happens, it's generally best to confront the bully and tell him or her that his or her actions offensive, and will be reported to human resources if they continue. Workers should keep detailed records of any incidents that occur and try to find witnesses to help back up their claims. If the person is too afraid to confront the bully directly, then he or she can speak to HR or a manager. Most companies have in-house procedures to follow in these situations. If the problem is still not resolved, and there is an ongoing pattern of intimidation, a worker may be able to claim that there is a hostile working environment, and seek legal compensation.