Is someone harassing you in the workplace? This type of harassment can exhaust you mentally, emotionally, and physically.
What is workplace harassment?
Harassment within the workplace occurs when someone creates an uncomfortable work environment for another person. Employees can face harassment due to their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability. The harassment can also be verbal or physical.
This article will explain how you can deal with harassment in the workplace. Let’s explore.
Table of Contents
What Types of Workplace Harassment Does the Law Recognize?
The law recognizes two types of harassment: hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer offers an employment perk if the subordinate fulfills a request.
- Example: An employer may ask for sexual favors in exchange for a job opportunity or promotion.
In other cases, an employer may want you to attend a religious function or join a religion. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the employer may retaliate with demotion or termination.
Conversely, hostile work environment harassment happens when the employer creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for an employee. Take note of the following workplace harassment examples:
- Insulting co-workers
- Telling crude jokes
- Making sexually-suggestive comments
- Engaging in inappropriate touching
- Making improper gestures
- Initiating aggressive physical contact
Hostile work environment harassment can also come from co-workers, contractors, or customers. You may have a case if you feel intimidated due to a hostile work environment.
How Often Must the Harassment Occur?
Workplace harassment is determined on a case-by-case basis. First, the behavior must be unwanted.
Moreover, the harassment must be ongoing and severe enough to warrant an investigation. Objectively, the behavior must be hostile to the point where any reasonable person would consider the conduct pervasive.
A variety of factors come into play when assessing the severity or pervasiveness, such as:
- Whether the person is a supervisor
- Whether the unwarranted behavior has interfered with an employee’s duties
- The psychological impact on the victim
- The severity of the conduct (i.e. physical threats or verbal abuse)
Should I Worry About Employer Retaliation?
This type of harassment often goes unnoticed. It occurs when an employer or employee seeks to punish you in some way.
- Example: A disabled person filed a complaint against an employer for denying a reasonable accommodation claim. As a result, the employer demoted the employee and reduced their salary.
In other cases, a boss may fire an employee if they refused the offender’s sexual advances. Retaliation can also occur between co-workers, especially if an employee files a complaint against another employee.
The offending employee may attempt to intimidate or threaten the victim in some way. Regardless, supervisors and co-workers cannot retaliate against you legally.
If you’re unsure about retaliation, speak to a workplace harassment lawyer immediately. An attorney can help you determine if actions taken against you constitute retaliation.
What Type of Lawyer Should I Find?
Find a lawyer with experience in workplace harassment. When it comes to harassment in the workplace, filing lawsuit against employer can be a tricky process.
Employers typically have more resources to find the best defense lawyers attorneys available. That’s why you need an attorney with extensive experience.
General-practice attorneys don’t have the expertise to handle workplace mistreatment. Above all, find an attorney who has a solid track record of winning workplace harassment cases.
Also, attorneys will guide you through the legal process. Perhaps you need to file a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Perhaps you need to file a lawsuit against the company. Your lawyer will convey your options and determine if you have a case. They’ll also help you gather the necessary evidence to boost your case.
How Should I Document Workplace Harassment?
To win a case, you need as much physical evidence as possible. The best way to gather evidence is through digital means.
- Example: Take screenshots of inappropriate texts, chats, or emails. Print out the evidence and place them in a file.
You should also save voicemails. Harassment doesn’t need to occur on the worksite. Problematic messages through your phone or on social media are also noteworthy pieces of evidence.
With that, you should read your state laws if you intend to record calls. Some states require both parties to consent to the recordings.
If the harassment occurs outside the digital world, draft a memo to document the incident. Include the following in your memo:
- The date and time
- The nature of the incident
- Your reaction to the encounter
- Who else witnessed the behavior
You can also ask co-workers to take memos if they witnessed harassing behavior. You should also ask potential witnesses if they’re willing to come forward. If so, your attorney will need their contact information.
If applicable, retain a copy of your therapy bills. Many harassment victims attend therapy sessions to cope with stress. Moreover, save any medical bills you may have incurred from the abuse.
The stress of harassment can lead to physical ailments, such as high blood pressure. You may also have bruising due to aggressive physical contact. Take pictures of any marks or bruises if you’re dealing with physical abuse.
What is Workplace Harassment?
If you’re wondering, “What is workplace harassment?”, it’s the unwarranted disruption to an employee’s work life. It can come in the form of mental, emotional, and physical abuse. Co-workers and employers alike can engage in harassing behavior.
If you’re a victim, talk to a lawyer immediately. Then, document the behavior as much as possible to support your case.
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