Workplace harassment is defined as any type of unwelcome action toward an employee that leads to difficulty in performing assigned tasks or that causes the employee to feel he or she is working in a hostile environment. The term is further defined by the fact that the harassment may be based on such factors as race, gender, culture, age, sexual orientation, or religious preference.
Factors that must occur for workplace harassment to be recognized as illegal include: conduct that is unwelcome and offensive to the employee, the employee must voice his or her objection to the behavior allowing the offending person to correct their behavior, and the conduct must be of a nature that makes an impact on the employee’s ability to carry out his or her duties in an efficient and responsible manner.
Harassment in the workplace can take form in many ways. The most commonly noted are prejudiced remarks, tasteless jokes regarding one’s individual beliefs, age or sexual orientation, slurs, name-calling and irresponsible remarks made to intimidate regarding one’s age, religion or orientation.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination state discrimination occurs when it involves:
* Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
* Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in your workplace, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
* Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that you need because of your religious beliefs or disability.
* Retaliation because you complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.
The EEOC also states that if you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, you can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with their department before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person’s identity.
Whether you are covered under EEOC laws may depend upon who your employer is. Laws vary according to the type of employer, the number of employees it has, and the type of discrimination alleged. The number of employees an employer must have will depend on the type of employer, whether they are a private company, a state or local government agency, a federal agency, an employment agency or a labor union. Coverage will also be dependent upon the type of discrimination alleged. For example, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, discrimination is prohibited based on national origin by smaller employers with 4 to 14 employees as well as larger organizations.
Who isn’t covered? People who are working as independent contractors, meaning they are not employed by the employer.
There are strict time limits in filing with the EEOC as well. In harassment cases, you must file your charge within 180 or 300 days of the last incident of harassment. You can look at the EEOC website for more information regarding rules, regulations and filing harassment charges.
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com