Unfortunately, workplace harassment happens all the time. Some people seem to think they are above the law and can treat others however they want with repercussions, when this isn’t the case. Every person deserves to work at a company that is free of harassment of any kind, but that is just not the reality. Most employees will at some point experience some degree of harassment or other misconduct at their job. Employers may face lawsuits for harassment that happens in the workspace or while an employee is traveling for work-related duties. Employees that become victims of harassment at work may have grounds for taking action.
As a DC employment litigation lawyer from Eric Siegel Law explains, as soon as an employee suspects that they are experiencing harassment is the time to come forward and have a legal team intervene immediately. Here are the three types of workplace harassment that employees are encouraged to speak up about:
The most obvious type of workplace harassment is verbal or written. It is also the most common form of harassment that occurs in workplaces. Instances of verbal or written harassment can entail behavior such as sending emails with offensive graphics or jokes about religion, race, or other protected characteristics. Other examples would be someone that repeatedly asks for sexual favors or dates through text or in person, asking about family history of genetic disorders or illnesses, making comments of a derogatory nature about someone’s age or disability, or imitating someone’s accent behind their back.
Perhaps the most difficult form of harassment to spot is visual, as it is subjective and requires someone to put themselves in the shoes of another. Examples of visual harassment could be displaying photos of a sexual nature, wearing clothes with vulgar or offensive language, watching violent videos or pornographic material, or drawing derogatory or violent imagery. For instance, someone may display a funny newspaper comic at their desk that most people find humorous as well, but another coworker may find it offensive and feel like their work environment isn’t safe.
Physical harassment may be more difficult to identify because it can sometimes be subtle, such as lewd hand gestures to convey curse words, making sexually suggestive expressions, frequently standing too close to someone on purpose, or playing music with degrading or offensive language. Physical harassment doesn’t have to be directed at a single person either, as someone who witnesses an inappropriate exchange between coworkers may feel uncomfortable or harassed.
All in all, every employee deserves to feel valued, respected, and safe in their workplace. When this isn’t the case, the misconduct can actually be against the law and victims can seek recourse for what has happened to them. There are legal professionals that employees can turn to have their questions answered and find out if their situation warrants moving forward with a case against their employer. By understanding how harassment can present itself in the workplace, employees can feel more empowered to come forward if need be.