Those who are unable to cope up with such circumstances, emotions such as frustration and anger are triggered, while some get frightened. This leads to lack of motivation at work. Stress starts to build up, loss of self esteem and self confidence as a result of harassment or bullying further leads to illness, absenteeism, job insecurity , decreased job satisfaction and eventually (in some cases) job resignation (acas, 2006).
However, it is always the employees who suffer, with increasing issues surfacing with regard to harassment at workplace; employees today have certain legal rights which can be exercised in case they are a victim of bullying or harassment. At the same time there are also certain responsibilities of the employer to prevent such issues from taking place in the first place.
They should create an environment which makes it clear to the employees that such behavior against fellow workers would not be tolerated and strict action would be taken against anyone who indulges in that behavior as the consequences of harassment serve as a huge cost to the organization in the form of low morale, frail employee relations, in efficiency and loss of staff (ACAS, 2006). An organizational policy or an organizational statement to all the employees regarding the standards of behavior expected from them while treating other employees aware of their responsibility towards others.
Certain laws have been established to protect employees from harassment from their employers or to protect gender harassment. For example according to the harassment law, based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, if harassment has been challenged (which includes name calling, jokes, derogatory or offensive comments, physical harassment) and the organization knew about the particular act or should have known, and if the act has interfered with the work performance of the employee, creating an intimidating or offensive work environment then the organization is held liable (Employment Opportunity Laws).
A sexual harassment case if not resolved internally within the organization, can then, in support of the above mentioned law can be filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commotion (EEOC) which decides the case. When we use the word harassment to indicate a diversity issue, most people take it as an issue concerning sexual harassment. But there are other types of harassment, on the part of employers which we need to consider.
Today increasing numbers of employers are being slapped with cases by workers, specifically wage earners, alleging them of compelling the workers to work through their lunch breaks. In most states, the law , Fair Labor Standards Act, requires the employer to give the workers at least a 30 minutes break to eat lunch and rest. But recent productivity and time pressures have ultimately put a squeeze on such breaks, resulting in conflicts between the employee and the employers (alleging them of harassment) and thus increasing legal consequences for organizations for ignoring the law (Kiger, 2008).
One of the examples of such law suits was observed in 2005 when Wall mart was hit with $172 million by the Northern California Jury for workforce harassment. Other laws covering harassment and discrimination at workplace include the Race Relations Act 1976 (amended in 2003) which protects the victims who have been harassed on grounds of nationality, race or ethnicity (acas, 2006). The Employment Equality Regulations (Sexual Orientation) 2003 is aimed at giving protection to the victim of harassment on grounds of sexual orientation by same or opposite sex (acas, 2006).
The list of laws related to diversity issues is extensive, with laws differing in different countries as well. In my opinion managing diversity is profitable as well as challenging for organizations today, as they not only have to struggle with establishing cooperative relationships among its employees and between the employees and the employers, but at the same time the organization also has to tackle with the legal obligations which arise as a result of unethical and illegal practices.
Law suits can be very costly for organizations, but in my view these legal obligations can be avoided if the organization takes steps to make certain policies (in live with the diversity laws of that country) to address and resolve these issues internally, investigating the grievance thoroughly, involving all the parties and the witnesses if any and satisfying the victim of harassment in accordance with the organizational policy. In this way an organization can enjoy the richness of a diverse workforce while avoiding the costs which come with it.
ACAS. (2006, June). Bullying and harassment at work: guidance for employees. Retrieved September 27, 2008, from Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS): http://www. acas. org. uk/index. aspx? articleid=797 ASME. (2006). What is Workplace Diversity? Retrieved september 27, 2008, from Professional Practice Curriculum: http://www. professionalpractice. asme. org/communications/diversity/index. htm Employment Opportunity Laws. (n. d. ). Retrieved September 27, 2008, from Auxillium West: http://www. auxillium. com/legal. shtml