If you feel like you have been harassed in the workplace, it is important to have an understanding of what actually constitutes unlawful harassment and what does not. By educating yourself about this topic, you can learn how to protect your rights. Furthermore, you can help to stop this inappropriate, uncalled-for workplace behavior. Everyone deserves to feel safe at work, so when they don’t, it may be time for legal intervention so that the behavior or actions discontinue.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2015, there were approximately 30,000 workplace harassment complaints. Although sexual harassment was one of the primary reasons for filing a complaint, this was not the only type of unwelcome conduct. Therefore, to better protect your employees’ rights, an employment discrimination lawyer explains what other behaviors may constitute workplace harassment.
Illegal harassment in the workplace occurs whenever an employee suffers pervasive, unwanted, and severe conduct that is based on prohibited traits such as race, religion, sex, gender, or age. This conduct may include:
Another form of workplace harassment is when a worker is forced to participate in an activity or behavior in order to keep their job. Although these things can be very upsetting or annoying, isolated incidents or petty slights generally don’t qualify as illegal harassment in the workplace. Sometimes people are just rude or won’t get along with each other, so the harassment must exceed these smaller common workplace disagreements in order to constitute an unlawful interaction. The victim may not only be the person who is being harassed. Rather, anyone who may be affected by this behavior could also claim harassment. If someone doesn’t report the harassment, it may continue to be perpetuated in the workplace.
Technically anyone working in the environment may be held responsible for workplace harassment. These could include:
Even if an employee is not directly involved in workplace harassment, they could be held responsible, should certain circumstances apply. For example, it is the duty of an employer to create a reasonably safe working environment. They should also prevent workplace harassment if it occurs and take any necessary corrective action. When a supervisor is being accused of workplace harassment, the employer could be liable unless they can prove they took action to cease, correct, and prevent any further behavior. In other words, the supervisor continued to engage in the harassment even after their employer tried to stop it.
If you have been harassed in the workplace, it is vital that you take swift action with help from a legal team, similar to Disparti Law Group. According to the EEOC, you could try to handle the matter on your own, at the lowest level. For instance, depending on how comfortable you are or the type of harassment happening, you could speak with the harasser yourself and let them know their behavior is offensive. If they do not stop, you should follow your employer’s reporting procedures. This may include filing a formal complaint with your employer and the EEOC. But if you feel unsafe talking to this person directly, then other approaches should be sought.