Study Shows Ambiguous Harassment Hurts Most

The Vancouver Sun recently reviewed an article published in the Journal of Applied Psychology that indicates racists and misogynists may be less harmful in the workplace than a belittling work colleague.
The journal titled, “Once, Twice or Three Times as Harmful” shows that in addition to gender and ethnic-based harassment, Canadians experience a third type of harassment called Generalized Workplace Harassment (GWH).   Allegedly, this third type of harassment may be more difficult to cope with than the other two because it cannot be easily discounted by victims on the basis of prejudice.   The study showed that the negative outcomes stemming from GWH were stronger than gender harassment and ethnic harassment.   The researchers suggest that a possible explanation for this is the experience of additional anxiety due to a lack of legal recourse because GWH it is not yet illegal in all of North America.
Thankfully, Ontario has taken steps towards the prevention of GWH or psychological harassment.  Last June, the government implemented Bill 168, which requires businesses to have policies and practices concerning workplace harassment and bullying.
Employers should take all claims of harassment seriously, and develop policies to address it in its less obvious forms.  Employees need not feel that they are trapped because they cannot pinpoint their antagonist’s motive.  Consider whether you have ever felt humiliated, excluded, insulted, threatened or personally attacked.  There is a good chance that you are the victim of psychological harassment, and should contact a lawyer.