Most people associate hazing with drunken fraternity rituals or initiations into exclusive clubs or gangs. It is hard to believe that cruel initiation pranks can exist in the adult world, but this is an unfortunate occurrence in workplaces in California and across the country. Many companies, as a result, have implemented anti-hazing policies.
What exactly is hazing? FindLaw defines this practice as tasks or rituals that can include humiliating and sometimes dangerous acts. Many people who are hazed feel as if they were harassed and demeaned, sexually or otherwise. They might report feeling intimidated, pressured to comply and afraid of the consequences if they don’t participate. Not surprisingly, those who are subjected to hazing might suffer intense emotional distress.
Hazing can also lead to accidents on the job that result in property damage or serious injuries, reports Business.com. In addition to the physical and emotional risks, hazing can create disharmony among co-workers and disrupt productivity in the workplace.
Many who initiate hazing practices at work insist that it’s harmless, and that those who protest are spoiling the fun. In fact, acts that qualify as hazing might not seem bad to others, but could go against the beliefs of the person being targeted. For example, the new employee who doesn’t drink might be harassed into getting drunk at the office party, with his co-workers not leaving him alone until he has a few drinks. This could be devastating if the employee is a recovering alcoholic or chooses to be sober for religious beliefs.
Whether the victim suffers physically or emotionally, those who are subjected to hazing may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.