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Workplace Harassment Law

Harassment at work is a form of employment discrimination, and it’s a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. There are many forms of workplace harassment. In some cases, workplace harassment can be addressed in a court of law, though in many cases, it can be hard to prove. Employment lawyers on JustAnswer answer many workplace harassment law questions. Below are five of the top workplace harassment related questions.

What are the types of workplace harassment?

There are many different forms of workplace harassment. The different types range from sexual, racial, religious, gender, and age-related harassment. The problem arises when, in the workplace, harassment can be hard to prove. As a result, legal action is often not sought.

Many employers have what is called an “at will” employment. If you are an “at will” employee, technically you can be terminated for no reason at all. This can result in harassment or wrongful termination of service. Since harassment is, in most cases, your word vs. theirs, this form of harassment would fall into the category for termination if the employer deemed fit. However, if you can prove the harassment — have witnesses or pictures; this could be the deciding factor of your case. If you have any questions regarding workplace harassment related to wrongful termination, feel free to ask Lawyers on JustAnswer, they can help answer your questions to help you decide if you have a workplace harassment case.

Workplace harassment vs. hostile working environment

Workplace harassment is any type of unwelcome action taken from either one employee to the other, or by members of management towards their subordinates — this includes supervisors, and the boss/owner. Any unwelcome action towards an employee that prohibits the employee from performing job duties or makes the employee feel violated or uneasy can fall within the purview of workplace harassment. The most common form of workplace harassment is sexual and gender-related.

A hostile work environment is when an employee experiences acts directed towards them, that provokes a fear of going to work. Often, these acts are offensive behavior, or intimidation initiated by the harasser. Hostile work environments usually are in the form of yelling, being rude, but basically creating an environment of severe stress. Most times, hostile work situations are when a boss or manager engages in such situations of hostility that provoke the employee to resign.

Are verbal threats considered harassment?

Depending on the state you are in, verbal threats are also considered a form of workplace harassment, depending on the statues of law. In states like West Virginia, where verbal threats are considered harassment, until the harasser actually acts on the threats, it does not constitute a criminal offence. In such situations, you would normally have a civil recourse. If you are facing verbal threats, and want to know more about the laws in your area, the Experts on JustAnswer can help answer your legal questions.

Is slander the same as harassment?

Depending on the situation, slander is often considered a form of workplace harassment, especially if it is sexually oriented. Heinous lies, verbal attacks as well as vicious rumors can discredit a person and cause not only stress in the workplace, but in personal life as well. The law and statute of limitations for slander differ from state to state. However, in most cases, if you can prove the accusations you may also have a workplace harassment case. If you are facing issues in this area, feel free to ask Lawyers on JustAnswer, they will be glad to help answer your slander and harassment related questions.

Can someone accused of sexual harassment at work be reprimanded without investigation by employers?

Employers are bound by most states to show that some sort of investigation or reprimand was made in the event that an employee was accused of sexual or any type of workplace harassment. Since most employment is considered “at will”, someone accused of workplace harassment can be fired or terminated at any given point. Employers can also reprimand an employee by giving a verbal and written warning to be placed in the employee’s permanent record. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious accusation with legal implications. If you need help on any workplace harassment issues, you can take your questions to Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer for quick and reliable answers.

Listed above are just a few of the many questions related to workplace harassment that are asked and answered by the Experts on JustAnswer. Every situation can be different with its own legal nuances. If you are on either side of the workplace harassment fence, you can get reliable and quick answers to your toughest legal questions.

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Recent Workplace Harassment Questions

  • Wife is employed with a firm with an at-will employment contract

    Wife is employed with a firm with an at-will employment contract under covered by DC law. She is on a USAID funded project working in Bangkok. Following employment of a new boss, 2 months ago, she has been subjected to increasing workplace tension, reduction in responsibilities, unclear role/responsibilities, humiliation in front of colleagues. When she tried to speak with the manager regarding this, she was asked to submit a resignation based on behavior, workplace tension, lack of teamwork, cultural fit. Alternative is to be put on a performance improvement plan. In the same discussion, she was told that her performance was stellar. She escalated the issue in writing to the head of HR who kicked the can downhill. She related her viewpoint vis-a-vis how the manager has systematically tried to work to a place where she can remove my wife from the project. HR person was nice in hearing her concerns, found some of manager's behavior out of line. Wife is uncomfortable going into the office given the intimidating and toxic work environment. Her manager is pressing for her to come into the office and have a call along with HR without indicating intent. Wife has expressed her concern to HR. However, HR is not responding to her issues.
    What can/should she do in this case? Can she decline to go to the meeting until she has had time to speak with HR? Can her non-response to the manager be used as a reason to terminate her employment? Does she have a workplace harassment or potentially wrongful termination argument?
  • My wife is suffering emotional, mental, and physical stress,

    My wife is suffering emotional, mental, and physical stress, anxiety from repeated workplace harassment. She's already been on stress leave, but the environment in so toxic and she fears returning to work. Where do we begin?
  • Im not sure of this should be under employment law; however,

    I'm not sure of this should be under employment law; however, it relates to working in hostile environment. I am a property manager, and I have a maintenance manager. In January, I reported several times during a several week period to my boss via both e-mail and phone that my maintenance manager was coming to work drunk, drinking while on the job, and just no show/no calling on other days. I reported that it had started at the end of August 2013, and had continued since then. I finally decided to start reporting the activities when I found him drinking beer and doing shots with a tenant during lunch hour in the office (which was open to public.) After four times reporting to Travis (boss), I asked him if he had even talked to Alex. He replied, he had called him, but hadn't really addressed the specific issue of drinking. I replied, either you do it or you can have my 30 day notice. He called back and told me he told Alex "no drinking on the job and he didn't want any more drama." Alex's behavior continued. As co-managers, we share an apartment. He became verbally abusive and abusive by text (which I had reported during one of my original calls to Travis.) He continued to do so. I am approved to work from home, so the home is also an office. I came home from the office to work in the home office one day. He was lying drunk in the middle of the living room. He asked me if I had called Travis. I replied, "no." He said, "that's good because he would tell you what's what." I asked, "what's that?" He said, "Do you know what Travis told me when he called me that one time? He told me if I was too drunk to work just call in sick and he didn't give a f**k whether I reeked of alcohol or worked hungover...and he said no more drama. And, by the way, when he was talking about drama he meant you. So he would just tell you that if you called him now." Then he laughed. That was in late January/early February. Since then, I haven't bothered reporting to Travis; however, I have documented the majority of the incidences, which are multiple and occur every week.

    What I want to know is if I have a lawsuit for either workplace harassment or being left to work in a hostile workplace with the knowledge of upper management. The only reason I am still in the job is because I have an appointment on Tuesday to find out if I need brain surgery. I need the insurance, and the vacation time I have built up here, if the answer is yes..and I'm pretty sure it will be yes.

    If the answer is no, I intend to quit and move to California where UC Irvine Neurology Dept has already agreed to take my case and then sue my company. If the answer is yes, I want to have the surgery, get healed, quit and then sue for the above reasons.

    I have tons of documentation. I have several tenants who would testify on my behalf.

    Do I have a case? If so, what can I expect to get out of it? I want a year severance package with benefits, plus an additional amount for the emotional and mental distress I have endured since being told I have no support from upper management.

    Thanks. I'm in a horrendous situation. Looking for input. Thanks again.
    Barbara
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