Workplace Harassment is a specific kind of discrimination. It occurs when someone at your workplace says or does something to make you feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Harassment is illegal only if it is done because of your race, gender or other protected category.
The two most common types of harassment are sexual harassment and racial harassment.
How do I pursue a discrimination or harassment claim?
Filing a charge with the EEOC * Filing a lawsuit * Retaliation What is “sexual harassment”? Sexual harassment usually occurs when there is a “hostile work environment” – which is “severe or pervasive” unwelcome sexual conduct related to the workplace. It comes in many forms: it might involve sex jokes, posters or flyers that make fun of women, unwanted touching, requests for sexual favors, comments about a person’s body or sexuality, or actual sexual assault or rape. Sexual harassment can occur if your boss denies you a promotion or fires you if you don’t engage in sex with him or her.
If you think you have been sexually harassed or suffered from workplace harassment, you should contact an attorney who specializes in labor law (employment law lawyer). Dirty jokes and sexual harassment If a co-employee once told you a “dirty” joke, that is probably not sexual harassment, because it happened only once. To prove that you were in a hostile environment, you usually have to show that the conduct was “severe or pervasive”. In other words, the conduct had to be pretty bad or happened many times. Rejected suitors and sexual harassment It is not sexual harassment for your boss to ask you for a date, but if you turn him down and he punishes you for the rejection – by firing you, transferring you, denying you a promotion, etc. – this is probably sexual harassment.
Touching and sexual harassment If your boss or a co-worker “touches” you in a casual way, such as a pat on the back or a congratulatory hug, that is probably not sexual harassment as long as it was not “unwelcome”. However, if you are offended by such casual touching, you should notify the “toucher” immediately, and if such touching continues, it might be considered illegal harassment.
Racial harassment Racial harassment involves unwanted conduct that affects the conditions of employment. To prove racial harassment, you must show that the harassing behavior is of a racist nature and alters the conditions of employment. If you have been subjected to workplace harassment, you should contact a lawyer who specializes in labor law (employment law attorney), to determine what you should do about the harassment.