What constitutes harassment in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2018 | Employee Rights |

When people think of workplace harassment, many Minnesotans may immediately think of sexual harassment and dismiss other types of comments or jokes as being part of their work culture. As harassment remains unreported, it becomes more of a problem and often ends up creating a workplace where employees do not feel safe or enjoy working. Not only does this affect an employee’s productivity, but also their emotional equilibrium.

Workplace harassment is outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with other federal regulations. As per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment can be any unwelcome behavior, either physical or verbal, that is based on color, race, sex, religion, gender, gender identity, nationality, age, physical or mental disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful when putting up with it becomes necessary to continue employment or the conduct is so severe that any reasonable person would conclude that the workplace was abusive, hostile or intimidating. Additionally, if a supervisor’s harassment results in a change of status or salary of the employee, it could also be qualified as harassment.

Harassing conduct could include jokes that are offensive, name-calling, physical assaults or threats of it, offensive pictures or even ridicule. Courts have found harassment to exist when an employer made fat jokes about a subordinate or commented about someone’s diabetic condition.

It’s stressful to go to an office where one does not feel safe. It’s also against the law for employers to create or tolerate a hostile or intimidating workplace. If an employee feels they are the victim of workplace harassment, they might want to speak to an experienced professional who can discuss their employee rights with them and the employment claims that could arise in their situation.