What Constitutes Harassment?
Our attorneys explain your rights
There are many federal and state laws that protect employees from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Identifying behavior that meets the legal definition of harassment can be difficult. Sometimes the unlawful behavior is not obvious. That’s why it’s important to talk to an experienced harassment lawyer.
The attorneys at Gibson Law, LLC know how employers approach these types of cases. That’s because we used to represent them. We know what type of evidence builds strong cases and which legal strategies are the most effective. Now, we use our experience and legal knowledge to help mistreated employees and fight to hold employers accountable.
The law protects members of protected classes (race, religion, sex, national origin, gender, pregnancy, over 40 or having a disability) from harassment at the workplace. This harassment can take many forms.
This type of harassment can be difficult to recognize as it is often seen as a personality conflict. When the harassment is centered around your being a member of a protected class, it becomes unlawful. Examples of verbal harassment include demeaning remarks, insults, slurs, offensive jokes and hurtful comments.
This form of harassment is more subtle but can be very damaging. It can include withholding information, spreading rumors, always assigning an employee unpleasant or demeaning tasks, isolating an employee from others, setting unreasonable deadlines, making impossible demands and belittling an employee in front of others.
Digital harassment (cyberbullying)
Though this type of harassment happens online, it can be just as harmful as in-person harassment. Examples of digital harassment can include unwelcome texts or emails from co-workers or supervisors, sharing offensive content through e-mail or messaging platforms, and posting demeaning or insulting comment on social media.
Physical harassment in the workplace includes any kind of unwelcome touching. This can be intentionally touching an employee on any part of the body, deliberately brushing up against an employee, unwanted slaps on the back, unwanted kisses or hugs, or physically blocking an employee’s movements.
This includes any type of unwanted sexual advances at the workplace. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome touching, sharing sexual messages or pornographic images with an employee, and making sexual jokes or comments. More serious examples include asking for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or raise.
Not all offensive behavior at the workplace meets the legal definition of harassment. For example, isolated incidents, simple teasing or an offhand comment generally can’t be considered harassment. In addition, the offensive behavior must be severe or pervasive and impact your ability to work.
That’s why it’s important to get trusted legal advice as soon as possible. An attorney can review the details of your experience, explain your rights and go over your legal options. An attorney can also answer any questions you have and give you the information you need to decide what to do next.
If you are being harassed in the workplace, Gibson Law, LLC can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team at our Cincinnati or Dayton office.