We’ll be discussing harassment today which consists of attitudes, conducts whether directly or indirectly that is offensive in nature. In this article types of harassments will be discussed and it’s legal remedies.

Harassment Legal definition

Harassment is any unwanted behavior, physical or verbal (or even suggested), that makes a reasonable person feel uncomfortable, humiliated, or mentally distressed. It is commonly understood as behavior that demeans or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. In legal sense, these connotes behaviors that are disturbing, upsetting or threatening. They evolve from discriminatory grounds, and have an effect of nullifying a person’s rights or impairing a person from benefiting from their rights.

Depending on the jurisdiction, the definition and boundaries for what’s considered harassing behavior may slightly vary.

During a harassment suit, a lot of things come into consideration. While harassment laws differ between states, most states consider these two main factors when deciding the validity of an accusation:

  1. The perpetrator’s intention (or un-intention) to annoy, threaten, or demean the victim.
  2. Repetition and severity of the unwanted action.

Historical analysis of harassment

Harassment derives from the English verb harass plus the suffix-ment. The verb harass, in turn, is a loan word from French, which was already attested in 1572 meaning torment, annoyance, bother, trouble and later as of 1609 was also referred to the condition of being exhausted, overtired. Of the French verb harasser itself there are the first records in a Latin to French translation of 1527 of Thucydides History of the war that was between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians both in the countries of the Greeks and the Romans and the neighboring places wherein the translator writes harasser allegedly meaning harceler (to exhaust the enemy by repeated raids); and in the military chant Chanson du franc archeer of 1562, where the term is referred to a gaunt jument (de poli fauveau, tant maigre et harassee: of fawn horsehair, so meagre and …) where it is supposed that the verb is used menaing overtired.

A hypothesis about the origin of the verb harasser is haracelharache, which was used in the 14th century in expression like courre a law harache (to pursue) and prendre aucun la harache (to take somebody under constraint). The Franzosisches Etymologisches Worterbuch, a German etymological dictionary of the French language (1922-2002) compares phonetically and syntactically both harace and harache to the interjection hare and haro by alleging a pejorative and augmentative form. The latter was an exclamation indicating distress and emergency (recorded since 1180) but also reported later in 1529 in the expression crier haro sur (to arise indignation over somebody). hare’s use is already reported in 1204 as an order to finish public activities as fairs or markets and later (1377) still as command but referred to dogs.
This dictionary suggests a relation of harolhare with the old lower Franconian “hara (here) (as by bringing a dog to heel).

While the pejorative of an exclamation and in particular os such an exclamation is theoretically possible for the first word (harace) and maybe phonetically plausable for harache, a semantic, syntactic and phonetic similarity of the verb harasser as used in the first popular attestation (the chant mentioned above) with the word haras should be kept in mind: Already in 1160 haras indicated a group of horses constrained together for the purpose of reproduction and in 1280 it also indicated the enclosure facility itself, where those horses are constrained. The origin itself of harass is thought to be the old Scandinavian harr with the Romanic suffix-as, which meant grey or dimmish horsehair. Controversial is the etymological relation to the Arabic word for horse whose roman transliteration is faras.

Although the French origin of the word “harassment’ is beyond all questions in the Oxford English Dictionary and those dictionaries basing on it, a supposed Old French verb harer should be the origin of the French harasser, despite the fact that this verb cannot be found in French etymologic dictionaries like that of the center national de resources textuells et lexicales or the Tresor de la langue francaise informatise (see also their corresponding websites as indicated in the interlinks); since the entry further alleges a derivation from hare, like in the mentioned German etymological dictionary of the French language a possible misprint of harer=har/ass/er=harasser is plausible or cannot be excluded. In those dictionaries the relationship with harassment were an interpretation of the interjection hare as to urge a dog to attack; despite the fact that it should indicate a shout to come and not to go (hare=hara=here;cf.above). The American Heritage Dictionary prudently indicates this only as possible.

Types of harassment


Electronic harassment is the combined use of medical implants, electromagnetic waves (from directed-energy weapons) and psychological warfare to disrupt a target. For instance: several psychologists have proposed evidence of auditory hallucinations, delusional disorders, or other mental disorders in online communities to discredit targeted enemies. Attitudes of dismissal regarding claims of electronic harassment frequently prevent any proper identification of other forms of harassment to which the victim is subject.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurs in a domestic or cohabitation settings, although the abuse itself doesn’t have to happen in a private settings. Abuse can happen between spouses, partners, family members, or even housemates. In some countries, domestic abuse is even part of a tradition, such as child marriage or corporal punishment.

Domestic abuse is hard to detect and report, especially since the victim spends so much time around the abuser and can be reluctant to file a report. Abuse that hasn’t reached a physical level is even harder to detect since there are various manipulation techniques that the perpetrators can use to make it seem like what they’re doing is natural.

Understanding how a healthy relationship looks and how to spot signs of domestic abuse is important to prevent domestic abuse. The United Nations report can also help you identify if you’re a victim of domestic abuse.

Harassment by Landlord

Landlord harassment quite rampant in Africa is the willing creation, by a landlord or his agents, of conditions that are uncomfortable for one or more tenants in order to induce willing abandonment of a rental contract. Such a strategy is often sought because it avoids costly legal expenses and potential problems with eviction. This kind of activity is common in regions where rent control laws exist, but which do not allow the direct extension of rent-controlled prices from one tenancy to the subsequent tenancy, thus allowing landlords to set higher prices. landlord harassment carries specific penalties in some jurisdictions, but enforcement can be very difficult or even impossible in many circumstances.

However, when a crime is committed in the process and motives similar to those described above are subsequently proven in court, then those motives may be considered an aggravating factor in many jurisdictions, thus subjecting the offender(s) to a stiffer sentence.


Cyberbullying, or online harassment, refers to acts that are designed to harm, stalk, or terrorize someone through any form of electronic communications, such as social media, text messages, or phone calls.

It’s easier to harass people virtually since it will be hard to track the parties involved. Cyber harassment can include harmful comments, derogatory websites, and untruthful posts, as well as hateful or offensive emails intentionally designed to terrorize a person.

While cyberbullying seems light compared to other forms of harassment, especially since there are no bodily injuries caused, cyberbullying causes significant damage to a person’s mental state. It can also escalate into a physical confrontation.

Cyberbullying can be extremely difficult to detect or identify as there are sometimes privacy laws, restrictions, and rights owners have. This is why it is especially critical to train your entire workforce to avoid and handle all acts of cyberbullying or malicious online activity.

Police harassment

Unfair and unprofessional treatment conducted by law enforcement officials, including but not limited to excessive force, profiling, threats, coercion, and racial, ethnic, religious, gender/sexual, age, or other forms of discrimination.


Power harassment is harassment or unwelcome attention of a political nature, often occurring in the environment of a workplace including hospitals, schools and universities. It includes a range of behavior from mild irritation and annoyances to serious abuses which can even involve forced activity beyond the boundaries of the job description. Power harassment is considered a form of illegal discrimination and is a form of political and psychological abuse, and bullying.

Psychological harassment

This is humiliating, intimidating or abusive behavior which is often difficult to detect, leaving no evidence other than victim reports or complaints. This characteristically lowers a person’s self-esteem or causes one to have overwhelming torment. This can take the form of verbal comments, engineered episodes of intimidation, aggressive actions or repeated gestures. falling into this category is workplace harassment by individuals or groups mobbing.

Community-based psychological harassment, meanwhile, is stalking by a group against an individual using repeated distractions that the individual is sensitized to. media reports of large numbers of coordinated groups stalking individual stalking victims, including a press interview given by an active duty police lieutenant, have described this community-based harassment as gang stalking.

Racial discrimination

The targeting of an individual because of their race or ethnicity. This harassment may include words, deeds, and actions that are specifically designed to make the target feel degraded due to their race or ethnicity.


Verbal, psychological or physical harassment is used against targets because they choose to practice a specific religion. religious harassment can also include forced and involuntary conversions.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is an offensive or humiliating behavior that is related to a person’s sex. It can be a subtle or overt sexual nature of a person (sexual annoyance, e.g. flirting, expression of sexuality, etc.) that results in wrong communication or miscommunication, implied sexual conditions of a job (sexual coercion, etc). It includes unwanted and unwelcome words, facial expressions, sexual attention, deeds, actions, symbols, or behaviors of a sexual nature that makes the target feel uncomfortable. This can involve visual or suggestive looks or commons, staring at a person’s body, or the showing of inappropriate photos. It can happen anywhere, but is most common in the workplace, schools, and the military. Even if certain civility codes were relevant in the past, the changing cultural norms calls for policies in to avoid intentional fallacies between sexes and among same sex. Women are substantially more likely to be affected than men. The main focus of groups working against sexual harassment has been the protection of women, but in recent years awareness has grown of the need to protect LGBTQ (for right of gender expression), transgender women and men.


Workplace harassment is the offensive, belittling or threatening behavior directed at an individual worker or a group of workers. Workplace harassment can be verbal, physical, sexual, racial, or bullying.

Recently, matters of workplace harassment have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management. In some East Asian countries, it has attracted substantial attention from researchers and governments since the 1980s, because aggressive behaviors have become a significant source of work stress, as reported by employees. Under occupational health and safety laws around the world, workplace harassment and workplace are identified as being core psychological hazards.

Jurisdictional laws in United States on harassment

Harassment, under the laws of the United States, is defined as any repeated or continuing uninvited contact that serves no useful purpose beyond creating alarm, annoyance, or emotional distress. In 1964, the United States Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibited discrimination at work on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin and sex.

This later became the legal basis for early harassment law. The practice of developing workplace guidelines prohibiting harassment was pioneered in 1969, when the U.S. Department of Defense drafted a Human Goals Charter, establishing a policy of equal respect for both sexes. In Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986): the U. S, Supreme Court recognized harassment suits against employers for promoting a sexually hostile work environment. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed a law which prohibited the transmission of annoying messages over the internet (aka spamming) without disclosing the sender’s true identity.

An important standard in U.S. federal harassment law is that to be unlawful, the offending behavior either must be “severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive,” or that enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment; e.g. if the employee is fired or threatened with firing upon reporting the conduct.

New Jessy’s Law Against Discrimination

The LAD prohibits employers from discriminating ina ny job-related action, including recruitment, interviewing, hiring, promotions, discharge, compensation and the terms, conditions and privileges of employment on the basis of any of the law’s specified protected categories. These protected categories are race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), marital status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for military service, or mental or physical disability, including HIV/AIDS and related illness. The LAD prohibits intentional discrimination based on any of these characteristics.

Intentional discrimination may take the form of differential treatment or statements and conduct that reflect discriminatory animus or bias.


In 1984, the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibited sexual harassment in workplaces under federal jurisdiction.

United Kingdom legal system

In the UK, there are a number of laws protecting people from harassment, including the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Remedies for harassment

Legal remedies for sexual harassment among legal systems available to the victim of harassment (for example, whether sexual harassment is addressed through laws prohibiting discrimination, through labor laws, criminal laws or civil laws (tort laws).

All countries that prohibit sexual harassment, however, have complaint mechanisms, separate from internal reporting process, which allow victims to seek a legal remedy.

In countries that have laws specifically prohibiting sexual harassment as a form of discrimination, the purpose of the legislation is to prevent the conduct, and where it has not been prevented, to remedy the consequences of discrimination.

The purpose of a remedy is to, as far as possible put the person in the place he or she would have been if the discrimination had not existed. When discrimination was a significant factor in the case, the victim’s is generally entitled to compensation for the consequences of the discriminatory action.

Depending on the severity of sexual harassment complaints and findings of the investigator, remedial actions for sexual harassment may include the following.

Where the person lost an employment opportunity:

  1. hiring the person for the job or opportunity lost;
  2. providing the person with the opportunity which was missed to the extent possible;
  3. providing financial compensation for the lost opportunity.

Where the person has lost wages:

Lost wages may be rewarded if the harassmnet was significant factor affecting the employer’s decision to terminate employment or the victim’s decison to quite. In this case, compensation would be for:

  1. all or part of the lost wages or slary;
  2. lost pension or other benefits;
  3. lost raises, overtime, shift bonuses, or higher rates of pay which should have been earned by promotion;
  4. any lost wages or benefits which can reasonably be linked to the act of sexual harassment


As a general rule, all expenses attributed to the enforcement of the person’s rights are recoverable. Examples of such expenses include:

  1. medical expenses, such as psychological care
  2. travel expenses from attending physician
  3. preparation of reports and costs of experts’ attendance at a tribunal
  4. travel costs to attend hearing
  5. wages and/or tips lost as result of attendance at trial
  6. in exceptional circumstances, compensation for future costs which are reasonably likely to be incurred, such as future psychological counseling.

Compensation for injury to dignity, feelings, or self-respect

Victims of harassment often hurt, humiliated, and degraded. The more intimate and personal the nature of the harassment, the more injury to emotional well-being would be expected. Some of the factors which are considered in determining the amount of compensation for injury to feelings in a complaint of harassment include:

  1. the nature of the harassment; e.g. was it verbal or physical
  2. degree of aggressiveness/physical contact of the harassment
  3. ongoing nature; the duration of the harassment
  4. frequency of the harassment
  5. vulnerability of the victim
  6. the psychological impact of the harassment on the victim.

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