How to Recognize Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment can be either a single outrageous act or a series of less serious acts that create a hostile work environment. Isolated outrageous acts, such as sexual assault in the workplace or racially motivated threats, are usually easy to identify. They are clearly wrong and clearly actionable. In the context of a hostile work environment, however, there can be a fine line between what is simply crude and unprofessional and what would violate the law.
In considering whether the conditions you face at work cross the line into creating a hostile work environment, you must consider both the consistency and the nature of the conduct. Isolated or infrequent comments by coworkers may not create a hostile work environment. However, the very same conduct occurring on a more regular and sustained basis may be sufficient:
- Inappropriate jokes or comments
- Verbal or physical harassment
- Circulating offensive emails
- Posting offensive cartoons
- Repeated requests for dates
- Use of racial slurs
Most employers take quick action to stop this type of conduct once they become aware of it. Therefore, the first step to take if you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment is to raise the issue with your employer. Many employers have a specific procedure in place for reporting these types of incidents. Even if your employer does not, however, it is still important to report your concerns through reasonable channels.
If your employer still fails to act to your satisfaction or if your employer or supervisor is the one actually creating the hostile work environment, it may be time to contact a West Palm Beach employment discrimination lawyer.