Workplace harassment is an issue that can affect anyone, regardless of their position or the type of work they do. Understanding the proper steps to take when faced with harassment, what constitutes harassment, and how you can protect yourself is imperative.
What Is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is any unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information that creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. It can include jokes, comments, emails, gestures, or any behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Remember, harassment is not limited to physical interactions; it extends to digital communications and can occur outside the physical workplace.
Your Rights Under The Law
Federal law protects employees from harassment in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws that prohibit harassment. It’s important to know that these laws cover not only employees but also applicants, interns, and contractors. If you believe you’re being harassed, you have the right to file a complaint with the EEOC. This process can be complex, and it’s often advisable to consult with an employment litigation lawyer to understand the intricacies of your situation and rights.
Proactive Steps To Take
Document Everything: Keep a record of all incidents of harassment. Note the date, time, what was said or done, and any witnesses. Documentation can be a powerful tool if you decide to take legal action.
Know Your Company’s Policy: Familiarize yourself with your company’s anti-harassment policy. This information is typically found in the employee handbook. Knowing the policy can help you understand the process for reporting harassment within your company.
Report the Harassment: Don’t be afraid to report harassment to your manager, human resources department, or any designated person in your company. It’s important to follow your company’s reporting procedures.
Seek Support: Harassment can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Consider seeking support from a counselor or support group. Sometimes, just talking about what you’re experiencing can be a huge relief.
When To Seek Legal Support
There are times when internal company procedures do not resolve the issue, or the harassment escalates. This is where legal counsel becomes essential. Our friends at Eric Siegel Law discuss how an experienced lawyer can provide guidance on your legal options. An attorney can help you understand the strength of your case, navigate the legal system, and work towards a resolution that protects your rights and well-being.
The Role Of A Legal Professional
An employment lawyer plays a critical role in cases of workplace harassment. They can assist in filing a formal legal complaint, represent you in discussions with your employer or opposing legal teams, and advocate for your rights in court, if necessary. These attorneys are knowledgeable about employment laws and can offer you the best course of action based on your specific situation.
Dealing with workplace harassment can be challenging, but knowing your rights and the steps to take can make a significant difference. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and professionals ready to help you navigate this difficult situation. Protecting yourself from workplace harassment is not just about confronting the issue but also about ensuring your safety and well-being in your professional environment.