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Harassment makes for an intolerable work environment

If you have just begun a new job, you probably wake up in the morning excited about going to work. At least, that is the way it should be. However, if you are experiencing harassment that is coming from your associates or from management, you may find the work environment intolerable. Fortunately, you have options for dealing with the situation.

How the EEOC sees harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a dim view of harassment, which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the EEOC, it is employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability or genetic information. Harassment is considered unlawful if it must be endured for the victim to keep his or her job, or if it creates a work environment that is hostile, abusive or intimidating.

Types of offensive behavior

Harassment can be found in many different forms.

  •         Offensive slurs or name calling
  •         Offensive jokes
  •         Ridicule, insults or put-downs
  •         Physical threats or assaults
  •         Offensive pictures or objects

Although there is usually a particular target, the victim may not be the only person affected by the harassment. The harasser can make a work environment miserable for everyone.

Employer responsibilities

To prevent harassment in the workplace, employers should make it clear that the company will not tolerate unwelcome behavior. This can be done by implementing anti-harassment training for both managers and employees and by establishing a complaint process. Employers can be held liable for a hostile work environment or a negative action that results from harassment.

What you can do

If you are the victim of harassment, the EEOC urges you to confront the harasser and explain that his or her conduct is not welcome. You should also report disturbing incidents to management. If you are uncertain about how to proceed or are nervous about doing so, you may want to seek professional advice. An attorney experienced with discrimination and harassment in the workplace will assure you that you have rights under the law and that there are legal remedies available to you.