What is Work Harassment?
Work harassment as described by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is unwanted conduct that is based on the personal characteristics and beliefs of an individual. Harassment becomes illegal when the unwanted conduct becomes a condition of employment or is “severe enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” Acts that violate work harassment laws can include actions such as intimidation, objectionable jokes, personal violations or threats, and tampering with workplace performance.
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Two Primary Types of Workplace Harassment
Quid Pro Quo Harassment – “Something for Something”
This happens when an individual’s employment is based on his or her acceptance of unwanted conduct. If the individual chooses to accept the offensive conduct, he or she will remain employed. If the individual chooses to outright reject the offensive conduct, he or she has a large chance of being fired.
Antagonistic Work Conditions
This happens when offensive conduct from fellow co-workers, managers, customers, and fellow employees causes the individual’s place of employment to become hostile, aggressive, and downright threatening.
When Can an Individual Sue an Employer?
Can I Sue My Employer for Unfair Treatment?
Although employers can be unfair and wrong in their decision-making, this does not mean they are allowed to mistreat anyone for whatever reasons they choose. An employee does not have to be fired in order for there to be grounds for a harassment claim against an employer.
If the individual believes that unfair treatment has taken place based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, or a number of other characteristics and beliefs, then the answer is “Yes”, an individual can sue an employer for unfair treatment.
Can I Sue My Employer for Negligence?
In cases when the employer is proven negligent, there may be grounds to sue an employer. A case for negligence may be proven if the employer does not have sufficient worker’s compensation insurance that will cover an injury that occurred at work or on work property.
Negligence can also take place during the hiring process when an employer does not screen individuals properly such as conducting background checks or checking references. Employers may not take appropriate action after hiring an unfit employee. This can be caused when an employer disregards the negative actions caused by an employee who decides to act in an area that is beyond their scope of responsibility.
Failing to train an employee or to supervise an employee correctly can also result in negative consequences in the workplace.
Can I Sue My Employer for Injury at Work?
An employee may have an argument for suing an employer when an injury has occurred at work that could have been prevented. These type of injuries can be caused by a defective product or a toxic substance. Conduct by an employer which is intentional can also cause an unnecessary injury.
An employee may also file for worker’s compensation insurance through their employer to help with medical expenses, loss of wages during their time of recovery, costs for any retraining needed, compensation for permanent injuries, and survivor benefits for workers who were killed on the job.
Employer Negligence & Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Typically if an individual makes a claim for worker’s compensation insurance they are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against their employer. There are exceptions to this of course. These exceptions include cases in which the employer purposefully set out to hurt you or the employer does not have sufficient workers’ compensation insurance or has no workers’ compensation insurance.
Why an Attorney is the Best Solution for Workplace Harassment
An attorney can be the best possible solution in workplace harassment situations where legal actions need to be taken. Attorneys well-versed in workplace harassment laws will give an individual a distinct advantage when deciding whether or not there are grounds for a lawsuit against an employer.
Along with knowing the correct court procedures to follow, a lawyer will know what information is needed for the case, documents that need to be presented to the court and jury, necessary evidence from the employer, and witnesses to provide proof of harassment.
Consult with an attorney who specializes in workplace harassment today.
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