Harassment at work includes torturing an employee by employers or fellow employees sexually, physically, psychologically, emotionally, or verbally. So many employees are facing various kinds of harassment at work from their bosses and fellow employees today. This in a way could hinder their productivity and well-being at work. According to Margaret Tumusiime, a counselling physiologist, Women and new employees are at the highest risk of getting harassment at work.
Aidah Namutebi (not real name) a journalist realized she was losing her mind due to the mental torture her editor was taking her through, she found a fault in everything she did, she constantly told her how she lived on her mercy among other insults.
“My editor would shout at me in front of everyone at office saying my writing was bad but surprisingly she would run my story as I sent it, this went on and on until I couldn’t take it anymore and quit my job,” she notes.
Isaac Murungi, a sales executive was bullied by his workmates for more than six months, they sent him to buy them what to eat, pick their papers from the printer and so many other non-work related things.
Paul Magezi an employer notes that harassment also involves physical torture like beatings that could lead to loss of lives or permanent damages, he says some employers beat up their employees for simple mistakes like not locking the gate for (gate keepers), picking up children late from school among others.
“Employers need to respect their employees and treat them like human beings, before you do anything to someone imagine how you would feel if it was done to your child, some things could be resolved by talking. Recovering loses by deducting someone’s salary constantly will make them lose the morale of working with you,” he explains.
How to avoid being a victim of harassment at work.
Magezi adds, “do your work well and don’t give your employer a chance to complain about you, stay in your limits. Sometimes we are harassed because of the way we conduct ourselves. Do your work well and in time, if you are always absent or gossiping, then you will be harassed at some point.”
Tumusiime urges female employees to dress decently as indecent dressing will lure men to demand for sex, she adds that you need to keep your relationship professional because opening to other talks could lead to sex talks.
“Do your work well so that you don’t have to gain favors of any sort. When you are a smart worker, you don’t need to sleep with your boss for a promotion or keep your job among other things” she adds.
Murungi(who has once been harassed) notes that employers should have rules governing their companies so that employees work within those limits, and whoever goes against them, should be punished as stated. He notes that the contract should clearly show the employee’s job description as this will help one complain in case they are given additional work.
“Sometimes we bring the torture to ourselves, you need to stand your ground on the very first days at work, show your employers and fellow employees that you deserve respect, do what you are supposed to do and don’t stand for less. Avoid being bullied in any way because the moment you pave way, it will affect you forever,” he adds.
Magezi advises employers to be fair enough to promote and demote people on fair grounds. He notes that some people will lay off works or deduct their salary with no valid reasons. This gives a bad reputation to the employer as well as tortures the employee.
Legally, harassment is defined as use of threatening, abusive or insulting words within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be harassed thereby. However the main form of harassment is the sexual one.
Workplace mistreatment, bullying, aggression, molestation and abuse are some other words used to describe harassment at work.
Sexual harassment is the more actionable one under the Ugandan law. According to the Employment Act 2006 of Uganda, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile or offensive work environment.