Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research
Edited By Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters
Chapter 1: Harassment in the Workplace: Violence, Ambivalence, and Derision Experienced by LGBT Strategic Communicators
Richard D. Waters
Workplace harassment has been conceptualized as verbal and nonverbal aggression at work, designed to attack individuals personally, ostracize them socially, and cause humiliation through psychological, and possibly physical, abuse (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2003). These interactions include personal attacks, social ostracism, and other painful messages ranging from inappropriate comments to physical threats of violence. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2011) reported that it received 32,053 claims of general workplace harassment and 11,717 claims of sexual harassment. Of these claims, investigations by the Commission found that 12,653 and 5,324, respectively, were legitimate and were subject to mediation or civic procedures.
Workplace harassment does not only affect the individuals involved; it also has a significant impact on businesses. The United States National Institute of Occupational Safety Health estimates that harassment results in organizational losses of $9 billion annually due to employee turnover and avoidance of work by employees. Additionally, $3 billion is lost to declining productivity by employees who are unfocused at work because of varying degrees of harassment (Douglas, 2012). Harassment is not restricted to the United States, as the Australian Productivity Commission estimates that it costs their national economy more than $15 billion annually (Berkovic, 2010), and workplace harassment costs the United Kingdom more than $6 billion pounds annually (Know Bull!, 2012).
Employers should strive to provide a hospitable working environment for everyone. While there is no moral obligation to do so, the benefit to the bottom line can strengthen...
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