Combating Workplace Harassment
While not everyone looks forward to going to work every day of the week, the workplace is supposed to be a safe place. Employees of all businesses and establishments, from fast food restaurants to huge corporations, need to be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. When these expectations are breached, it is uncomfortable or even scary. Plus, workplace harassment is illegal, and grounds for a personal injury case.
What is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is often sexual. Sexual harassment includes inappropriate grabbing or touching, lewd remarks in relation to gender, or offering promotions or perks in exchange for sexual favors. 1 in every 4 women, and 1 in every 10 men, experience sexual harassment at their workplace.
However, harassment does not have to be sexual to be harmful and hurtful. Other types of harassment occur because of someone’s
- country of origin
- physical or mental disabilities
- sexual identity
- martial status
Types of workplace harassment can include:
- Telling off-color or offensive jokes about a specific group of people
- The usage of offensive terms to describe a person or group of people
- Commenting on physical appearance
- Displaying sexual, racial, or otherwise insensitive pictures
- Hostile physical contact
Additionally, harassment may arise from situations that involve promotions, workplace benefits, or workplace activities. For example, if an employer made a religious event a mandatory aspect of employment, this might go against an employee’s personal beliefs. Asking an employee to do anything against their beliefs or wishes in exchange for a promotion or preferential treatment is also workplace harassment.
While workplace harassment often falls under employment law issues, it can also be a personal injury issue. Harassment may lead to anxiety, depression, or other personal health issues, which have an effect on a person’s everyday wellbeing. If an employee suffers in an unsafe environment, or gets fired due to their beliefs or identity, they may experience a loss of wages and other strains. If harassment becomes severe enough to create a hostile or unhealthy environment, or if the harassment leads to a direct change in employment or benefits, an employee can make a workplace harassment claim.
Filing a Claim
Before filing a harassment lawsuit, the first step is to file an internal complaint. An employee should speak with their company’s human resources department, or talk directly to a manger or supervisor. During this stage, it’s important to keep copies of any letters and correspondence about the claims. If an employee makes a complaint and nothing changes, correspondence serves as evidence. Before filing a lawsuit, an employee must also file an administrative charge with the federal Equality Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If they file a lawsuit without this step, the lawsuit gets thrown out.
If addressing the harassment issues does not create a better environment, or leads to worse treatment or termination, the employee can file a lawsuit. Many attorneys specialize in workplace harassment or discrimination, and can be of valued assistance.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.