Many types of harassment can occur in the workplace. Examples include unwelcome comments, jokes, pranks, and touching. Derogatory statements that are not directed at the targeted individual but made in his or her presence may also constitute harassment. Sometimes comments that were not personally observed by the targeted individual but were later relayed by others can also constitute harassment.
Not all workplace harassment is illegal. A nasty supervisor who yells or curses but does not discriminate based on membership in a protected class – for example, sex, race, religion, national origin, medical condition or age – will generally not be liable for workplace harassment, even if his or her actions have a detrimental effect on the work environment.
However, harassment that is related to an individual’s membership in a protected class is unlawful. An employee may feel that he or she is unwelcome at their place of work because of discrimination or harassment. This type of unlawful workplace harassment can become so severe or pervasive in a workplace to the point where it negatively affects that employee’s work performance, creating what is considered a “Hostile Work Environment.”
It’s important to note that it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you (ie., terminate, demote, or take other adverse employment actions against you) for reporting your concerns of workplace harassment. You may want to consider reporting instances of workplace harassment to your employer. Your employer may remedy the issue.
There are several different laws that address workplace harassment, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Each of these laws protect employee rights in different ways and have their own distinctions, which must be fully appreciated to maximize the chances of asserting a successful claim. Moreover, these laws continuously evolve, and thus it is important to stay abreast of new developments.
One of Leeds Brown Law, P.C.’s main areas of practice is protecting employees who have or are experiencing workplace harassment. We’re sensitive to the needs of our clients should they require confidential settlement negotiations, mediation or arbitration, or a jury trial. If you or anyone you know has or is experiencing workplace harassment, seek legal counsel right away. Contact Leeds Brown Law, P.C., via email or by phone at (516) 873-9550 or (212) 661-4370.