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 and Dominick were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. They got back to me quickly, whenever I had questions, which helped me stay calm during a very stressful time. Rachel was confident in her abilities and knowledge of the labor laws, and she was able to secure a settlement for me. If you ever find yourself in a situation that requires you take action against an employer, I would highly recommend the Friedman Firm. There's no one I would recommend more to be in your corner.
If you are in need of an employment attorney, this is your sign to talk to Rachel and Jamie. Amazing!! They handled my case like the true professionals they are! They stuck to a strategy, even when it seemed like it wasn’t going our way and BAM! We get the outcome we wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I will always return to them if I EVER have an employment issue again. Thank you so much for helping me and my family!
Dedicated! Thorough! Detailed! Professional! Personable! I can keep going with the many qualities Pete and his team have. I highly recommend him!!! You won't be disappointed.
I needed an employment lawyer to work through a non compete. Pete at The Friedmann Firm was listed as one of the three best rated employment lawyers on a local website. I called him in the morning and later that night he was on the case and provided sound council through a very tense negotiation. Don’t take a chance with your career, reach out and get good council. Pete was very responsive every step of the way and delivered positive results. I highly recommend Pete and his Firm!
Rachel was top-notch from start to finish. She was responsible, professional, quick to respond to emails, texts or phone calls. She gives it to you straight, which I prefer! She thinks outside the box and is definitely the dog you want in the fight for you. She does not waste time and immediately dives right in to get the best results she can for you. I would highly recommend Rachel and her firm to anyone who wants to get the job done right, the first time, in a professional, compassionate and decisive manner.
My wife used this firm for a matter she had with her former employer. She could not have been more satisfied with their services. They were timely in responses, courteous, and very thoughtful. This was a difficult process for her and Pete made it so much easier by handling all of the details of her case.
Rachel Sabo of The Friedmann Firm believed in me when no one else did & helped me through every step of my legal process. Very happy with the firm’s professionalism & dedication to my case.
I called them with some questions about my employment and Jamie was very helpful. I didn’t need an attorney to handle a case for me - only to help me navigate an issue I was having at work. She answered my questions and I felt she truly listened to me. I’d recommend this firm to anyone looking for an employment lawyer. Thank you!
Pete resolved issues I was having with my employer in a quick and favorable manner. He is also easy to talk to and understands his clients rights AND needs. You’d do right to call The Friedmann Firm.
I had a terrific experience with Rachel. She handled my case in a very professional manner. She made herself available and always kept me updated. Her knowledge of the law is incredible. She took the time to educate me on the legal processes so I understood what was happening with my case. Thank you Rachel for helping me navigate a most difficult situation. I am so thankful to have had you as my attorney. You have my highest recommendation.