Power harassment occurs when someone in a workplace environment suffers some sort of discriminatory or abusive behavior at the hands of a superior. This kind of behavior often goes well beyond the typical relationship between employer and employee into much more damaging territory. If it is indeed prevalent in a workplace environment, those suffering through it may have legal recourse if the harassment is severe enough. One specific type of harassment in the workplace is sexual harassment, which occurs when an employee is on the receiving end of unwanted comments or actions that are sexual in nature.
The workplace is an environment that, in an ideal situation, should be welcoming for all. Unfortunately, situations exist where employees are treated in a manner that far oversteps the bounds of what is proper between a boss and his or her workers. Someone in a position of power should never be allowed to exercise the power in a bullying or discriminatory fashion. This can create an unhappy and unsafe work environment not just for those being harassed but for the entire work force.
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Obviously, any kind of physical force exerted by a boss against his or her subordinates should not be tolerated. An even subtler form of power harassment is psychological abuse, which can occur when an employer makes unwarranted verbal threats or demeaning remarks toward an employee. Such abuse can take a toll on an employee over time, especially if he or she feels like a target.
Sexual harassment has been a common form of power harassment for as long as both sexes have shared a common work environment, but the issue has evolved over time to include intricacies that make ferreting out such behavior more complex. The traditional office power relationship between a male boss and his female secretary has always been a problem area in terms of sexual harassment. In modern offices, homosexual employees can also be the target of harassment if their sexual orientation is a source of taunting from their superiors.
When an employee feels that power harassment has occurred, he or she must bring the problem to light for action to be taken. Employees are often scared they will lose their job in the process, so they keep silent. The employee may bring the matter to the human resources department where he or she works. Barring that, employees may have to consider legal counsel to see if they have grounds for a lawsuit if the behavior in question is particularly egregious.