or           RSS Feed

Harassment in the Workplace

Monday, 10 October 2016

by Staff, Spaulding Law

In a litigious age, it is incredibly important to have sound policies and training in place at any company. One potential high risk area for companies is harassment in the workplace. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information (U.S. EEOC). This can take on a couple of different forms: Quid pro quo (“this for that”) and a hostile work environment.

• Quid Pro Quo: Deals directly with the consequences of the choice of an employee when they accept or reject unwelcome conduct. For example, a man does not receive a deserved promotion because he refused his boss’ sexual advances.

• Hostile Work Environment: A reasonable person would find the atmosphere of the workplace to be intimidating, offensive, or hostile. Some examples of this behavior might include the following:

o Offensive jokes
o Unnecessary or inappropriate touching
o Sexually suggestive or racially insensitive pictures
o Crude or derogatory language

Sometimes co-workers share something they believe is “all in good fun” and somebody is offended. The behavior may not have been intended to intimidate or offend their co-worker, but offense is the result. Not every offense will require discipline, but companies should be sure to take some sort of action when the harassment is unlawful. Harassment becomes unlawful when it is a condition of employment or the behavior is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. Pervasive harassment includes an ongoing series of actions. One act on its own might not be enough to be considered harassment, but it would be considered harassment if a series of similar actions show a pattern of hostility. Severe harassment only requires one act on its own that clearly shows hostility to one of the protected classes mentioned above.

Policies and training are important because employers are liable for the harassment that happens in the workplace and through work sponsored events. An employer can only avoid liability if they 1) reasonably tried to prevent or correct the behavior, and 2) the employee unreasonably refuses to accept any of the preventative or corrective solutions provided by the company. Contact an expert in employment law to help you create or review your company’s current harassment policies. An expert can also help provide the best advice for dealing with a harassment situation that has already occurred.

This information is made available by Spaulding Law for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. By using this website, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Spaulding Law, unless you have entered into a separate representation agreement. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

Driving Directions from I-15:
• Take the Pleasant Grove exit 275 from I-15
• Turn North onto Pleasant Grove Blvd
• Turn left onto W. Grove Pkwy
• Quickly turn left into the Synergy/Spaulding Law parking lot.