Workplace Harassment Attorney
“I’m getting harassed at work – Do I have a case?” — If you have been harassed at work, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
What is Harassment?
Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.
Employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Employees should also report harassment to management at an early stage to prevent its escalation. If an employee does not report the unwanted conduct, there is no way for the employer to take appropriate action. If the employer fails to take appropriate action after being notified by employee about the unwanted conduct, the employee should seek legal consultation so that they can know and understand their rights.
Employer Liability for Harassment
The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
The employer will also be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (e.g., independent contractors or customers on the premises), if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.
Employees should not be harassed at work. Harassment in the workplace means being subject to any unwanted verbal, physical, or written conduct that demonstrates hostility due to their gender, religion, color, disability – both mental and physical – race, ancestry, or national origin. The most common form of workplace harassment is sexual harassment which includes, “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”
See also: Employment Discrimination
An experienced employment attorney can help you navigate your way through the EEOC process and advise you of your rights. Goodin Abernathy LLP provides free consultations to individuals who have questions related to their employment. Click here to schedule your consultation.
Attorneys with a Focus on Harassment Law