Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy), national origin, age (over 40), or disability.
In 2020, employees filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a total of 67,448 charges of discrimination. Of this total, 24,221 charges alleged some form of harassment. Thus, 35% of all discrimination charges filed in the United States included allegations of harassment. There were a total of 3439 discrimination charges filed in North Carolina in 2020. Harassment is a problem faced by workers in Hickory, North Carolina, daily.
Examples of harassment include:
- Offensive or lewd jokes.
- Racial or ethnics slurs or name-calling.
- Pressure for dates or sexual favors.
- Offensive comments about a worker’s religion or religious clothing.
- Offensive graffiti, cartoons, or pictures.
Not all workplace harassment is illegal. Teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious are not unlawful. The discrimination laws do not mandate good manners in the workplace. To be illegal harassment, the conduct must be severe, meaning very serious, or pervasive, meaning it happened on multiple occasions. For example, physical assault of a female employee at work is very serious and would be considered severe conduct, even if it occurred on a single occasion.
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another department of the workplace, a co-worker, or a non-employee that the employer has allowed into the workplace. The victim does not need to be the person harassed, but anyone affected by the offensive conduct. For example, Supervisor A sexually harasses worker B daily by telling very sexually explicit jokes; B is a victim of harassment. Worker C stands next to B for 8 hours a day working at a plant in Hickory, North Carolina, and she hears all the jokes told by Supervisor A; worker C is also a victim of harassment.
The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as a termination or denial of a pay raise. Suppose the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment. In that case, the employer can only avoid liability if it can prove that it reasonably tried to prevent and correct the harassing conduct, and the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any policies or procedures designed to avoid harassment.
The employer will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (independent contractors or customers ) if it knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.
If you are being sexually harassed, you must file an administrative charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The deadline for filing the discrimination charge is 180 days from the first act of harassment. The filing of a charge of discrimination requires submitting a written document to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The employment lawyers with the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor in Hickory, North Carolina, are available to meet with victims of harassment, help them evaluate their claims, prepare their written charge of discrimination, and submit the charge to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. There is no charge for this help.