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Dealing with Political Harassment in the Workplace

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 10/3/2010

Dealing with harassment in any form is quite difficult, especially in the workplace. Dealing with harassment on which someone's political views are being tested is sometimes hard to identify, but can be just as detrimental as any other form of harassment.

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    Dealing with harassment in any form is difficult for anyone, especially in the workplace environment. Dealing with political harassment in the workplace can especially be hard, as it may not be as easily identified as sexual harassment or racial harassment. But what is harassment? What is political harassment? And how can someone deal with it within the workplace?

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    What is Workplace & Political Harassment?

    Workplace harassment is identified as any unwanted verbal, physical, or written action or conduct that shows hostility or aversion to a person based on race, gender, political views, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability that causes a hostile working environment, interferes with the person's work, or affects his ability to garner opportunities within the workplace.

    Political harassment in the workplace deals with the hostility or aversion to a person based on what his political views are. This can mean anything from being singled out for believing in a certain bill or candidate or by expressing favor for a particular party that the rest of the office may not share. This is not to say that holding different political viewpoints within an office environment will create a situation in which someone will be targeted. Political Harassment 

    A person will never know what kind of environment he will experience when hired by a company or business. Depending on the company or business itself and that of its office, there may be a very lax environment, where employees can openly discuss the politics of the day or the events within Washington; verbal discussions or even disagreements should not be taken as a prelude to a case of political harassment. Usually the topic of discussion will blow over, once both parties have either reached an impasse or an accord.

    Examples of political harassment would be if an employee who has identified himself as, say, Republican is shunned by an office that is primarily Democrat. This would include remarks or comments against that person, written comments, or even threatening actions based on the fact that his views are different than those of his co-workers. Another example would be if employees are forced to give monetary wages or spare time to a candidate that their supervisor or manager likes, despite any evidence that the employees do not share the same viewpoint. This could mean that a supervisor or manager tells employees that certain people who go along may get raises or other opportunities that workers who do not comply will not receive.

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    What Can I Do?

    What can be done about political harassment? The same steps that a person would take when facing other types of harassment apply to this as well. The first thing is to get and understand the company's own policy against workplace harassment; this policy should outline what constitutes harassment within the workplace, as well as what to do when presented with accusations of harassment.

    The next steps should be to file a compliant with the company's senior management, if possible, before taking legal action. There is a harassment incident form in Bright Hub's media gallery. Oftentimes, the situation can be resolved without legal action; however, it is good to know and understand your rights when involved in with a harassment charge. Seek legal advice from a certified attorney to see what steps need to be taken if the situation should escalate into further action.