If you are a victim of harassment at your job, you might feel helpless. When someone who has power over you makes you feel inferior or affects your ability to do your job, you might not know where to turn. The first step is determining if you are actually the victim of harassment in the workplace. Next, you need to determine what kind of harassment you have been subject to. Then, determine what can happen to fix the situation.
What is Harassment in the Workplace?
Harassment in the workplace occurs when a person is treated unfairly because of protected traits. For example, if a person is discriminated against due to their:
Protected traits such as the ones listed above mean that harassment or unequal treatment based on these factors is illegal. But, not everything is discrimination. For example, if another employee is favored over you because they are more qualified or have a better work ethic, this isn’t harassment. You need to make sure that discrimination has basis in a personal, protected trait, and not an acceptable form of favoritism.
Types of Harassment/Discrimination
You might face direct or indirect harassment in the workplace. Direct harassment occurs when a superior makes a tangible decision in the workplace based on their discrimination. For example, if an employee refuses to give you a promotion or a raise, these constitute direct harassment. Any direct actions taken against you would constitute direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination creates a hostile work environment for you. Even if you are not denied opportunities at your place of employment, you could be the victim of harassment if your work environment is hostile. A few examples of colleagues or supervisors creating a hostile work environment for you include:
- Unwanted or hostile physical contact.
- Making jokes about you or your race, sex, etc.
- Inappropriate language.
- Incessant teasing.
- Actions designed to make it difficult for you to complete your work.
There are a few factors that must be fulfilled in order for you to take action against workplace harassment. First, you must express that you don’t appreciate these actions. In addition, the actions have to be objectively persistent and severe enough that any reasonable person would feel that they create a hostile work environment. A few passing comments here and there are not enough to constitute harassment in the workplace. But, consistent, pervasive, and inappropriate actions will constitute harassment. You can take action to stop these issues.
If you believe that you are the victim of harassment at work, you should contact an attorney. Tell them about the issues that you face in your office. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a case and how you should proceed.