What Constitutes Harassment in the Workplace?
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains on its website that “harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
The agency also states that “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.” Reporting such mistreatment is protected as an exercise of one’s rights. An employer that abuses, demotes, reassigns, or fires a worker who complains about harassment can be sued under the same laws that were put in place to prevent the harassment in the first place.
As hostile work environment attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, the lawyers with The Friedmann Firm have these definitions memorized. At the same time, we know that the official agency language itself does little to actually highlight what actions constitute harassment in the workplace, who harasses, who suffers harassment, and what victims of harassment can do to hold harassers accountable for their harmful and illegal behaviors.
We offer brief clarifications here and welcome requests for advice on how to handle real-life situations involving potential harassment. Consultations are free and confidential, so please call us at (614) 610-9755 or fill out this online contact form to schedule an appointment with an experienced Columbus hostile work environment lawyer.
Examples of Workplace Harassment
Most people hear “harassment” and think “sexual harassment.” The problem is much broader. As the EEOC notes, an employee or job applicant can suffer harassment for nearly any reason, from their race and sex to their age and physical abilities.
A partial list of behaviors that can support a workplace harassment claim includes
- Racial slurs
- Offensive nicknames
- Offensive pictures
- Pressure to date or have sex
- Unwanted touching
- Physical assaults
Who Harasses Whom?
Anyone can suffer workplace harassment at the hands of anyone else. Co-workers, managers, customers, and vendors can cross the line from friendly teasing or playful banter to causing real harm. Men can harass men, and women can harass women. Subordinates can harass superiors, and harassment can occur online as well as in person.
What Can Be Done About Workplace Harassment?
One of the most important reasons to consult with a knowledgeable hostile work environment lawyer in Columbus is that a single insult or an isolated unwanted sexual advance probably will not support a harassment claim, no matter how much discomfort the inappropriate behavior caused. Partnering with a legal ally to document a persistent and genuinely harmful pattern of mistreatment will make it possible to end the behavior and receive compensation.
Another reason to work with an attorney who has a strong track record for helping victims of workplace harassment is that numerous federal and state laws cover harassment. Filing a complaint under the most-applicable provisions of the most applicable law greatly increases the likelihood that the victim will succeed.
To share another partial list, all the following federal laws make workplace harassment in unique and overlapping ways:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans mistreatment of current workers and jobseekers on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, and national origin
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against workers and job applicants older than 40
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars gender discrimination against students and staff in schools, colleges, universities, and vocational training programs
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which protects women who become pregnant and give birth from losing their jobs or getting reassigned
- The Americans with Disability Act, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and job applicants who have physical or mental limitations
Seeking compensation and remedial action under each law requires navigating different processes and, often, going through a civil lawsuit. Contact a Columbus employment lawyer today.
Rachel was absolutely amazing. As an attorney she really took the time to really listen to my concerns. She was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. The outcome was favorable on my behalf and I appreciate her efforts to achieve a good outcome. I would highly recommend her and the Friedmann firm to represent me if ever needed in future.
Working with Rachel Sabo from Friedmann Firm was absolutely amazing! She upholds integrity, honesty and without a doubt fights for what is right! Rachel was extremely transparent and real! Please don’t let wrong be right, Rachel will strive to advocate and put her whole heart in obtaining resolve in your situation! What an absolute blessing, she won my case in less than 1 week💪
My experience with the Friedmann Firm is an absolute 5 stars. From my very first call with Karen, to all of my communication with Rachel, everything exceeded all of my expectations. Rachel and Karen were so caring and understanding in a very sensitive situation. They responded immediately to any questions or concerns I had. I would HIGHLY recommend the Friedmann Firm. They are caring, professional, understanding, and I would trust them with any issue I have in the future.
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm were fantastic to work with. The thought of needing an employment lawyer was scary for me, it was confusing and complex. But Rachel listened, asked questions and took time to really understand me and my priorities. I felt calm, supported and excited for the first time in weeks after talking to her!! We worked together to review everything, set expectations and meet my priorities! Thanks Rachel and team for all your work!!!
Rachel Friedmann of the Friedman Firm was my attorney for a very recent legal matter. I would highly recommend Rachel based on her legal knowledge, her honest appraisal of the matter and expected outcomes, her open communication and timely responses to my questions and the matter itself, and her steadfastness in dealing with the opposing counsel until a final agreement was reached.
Rachel and her staff went over and above the call of duty to help me achieve fiscal resolution to my legal issue. She wasn’t always available to talk but was always responsive via text and email when in court out of the office and even on vacation. I feel she earned her percentage cut.
Couldn’t be happier with the representation I received from Jamie Bailey on my civil litigation case. She worked tirelessly to resolve the case and in the end negotiated a fair settlement on my behalf. I would highly recommend her to anyone! Thanks for everything Friedman law firm.
Friedman Firm was a great help in a difficult time in my life. They went above and beyond to get me back on track. Rachel was so good to work with and is extremely knowledgeable about the law and employment rights. Can't thank them enough for all there hard work. Highly recommend them to anyone.
The Friedmann Firm (specifically Pete Friedmann) represented me through what seemed like a never ending employment discrimination suit. The suit was filed just before Covid shut everything down in 2020. Add to that a former employer who refused to admit fault. In spite of all of that, Pete stood resolute in his representation of me and working for the best outcome for me. We ended up settling prior to trial and I was more than satisfied with the results. Pete was always available to answer questions and reassure me throughout this process. I highly recommend The Friedmann Firm!
Pete Friedmann and his firm are fantastic. He represented me for more than a year going through a suit with a previous employer. He walked me through every step of the process and was always quick to respond to any questions I had. My settlement came in and we parted ways with both sides being pleased with the outcome. I highly recommend the Friedmann firm and wouldn’t hesitate to use them again in the future if the need arose. Thank you, Pete!
Rachel and the Friedmann Firm have been amazing to work with. Rachel was very helpful, listened to our concerns and took our case. She communicated well throughout and really worked for us. We were very well represented!
I loved working with The Friedmann Firm. Rachel and Jamie are exceptional lawyers and were diligent in reviewing my case and letting me know of my options. Jamie was extremely thorough and handled even the smallest details of my case with ease. The entire process was seamless and they were always quick to respond to emails and calls. I would definitely recommend working with The Friedmann Firm.
I would recommend Rachel Sabo Friedmann and the Friedmann firm for severance negotiations. Rachel was always available and responsive and made an effort to ensure I was updated on every step of the process. Her diligent efforts produced a prompt resolution and we are very happy with the results!