How to Handle Harassment at Work
You clock in for another day at work. You say hello to your fellow coworkers, only to have one of them make an inappropriate comment about how tight your skirt looks. You sit at your desk, dreading the morning meeting in case you have to sit next to said coworker. Over time, your struggle to avoid the rude coworker causes you to come to work late, skip meetings, and produce a lower job performance. Now, you’re being demoted. This is a classic example of harassment at work.
If any form of workplace harassment – sexual or otherwise – happens to you, here are some tips from our Tampa harassment attorneys on how to handle the situation with your job, dignity, and rights in tact. If you’d like to speak with an attorney regarding details of your case specifically, contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation with a Tampa employment attorney.
Identify Harassment from the Start
While some signs of harassment might be obvious, such as physical touching, others can be subtle. Harassment can take many forms and happen to anyone in the workplace. Examples include:
- Actions regarding a protected class that interfere with an employee’s success
- Anything that creates a hostile work environment
- Racist, homophobic, gender-specific, or other jokes or comments
- Someone spreading malicious rumors about you
- Unjustified threats about your job, position, or pay
- Behaviors or actions that humiliate you at work
- Sexually inappropriate touching, behaviors, gestures, or comments
- Unwelcome sexual advances
Do not “let things slide” until you have a full-blown harassment case on your hands. Instead, learn the warning signs of workplace harassment to detect it right from the beginning. The sooner you notice harassment at work, the sooner you can put an end to it.
Report Harassment to Human Resources
First, try to talk to the person harassing you. There is a chance he or she does not realize how harmful his/her behaviors are. You may be able to work the problem out between yourselves. If not, go to HR. All workplaces should have some kind of system or procedure in place to deal with harassment scenarios. If your company has a Human Resources department, start there.
Report the incident of harassment and create an official written claim. Keep your own documentation of events as well, with the date, time, location, and description of the event. Your workplace should do something to remedy the situation. If not, take your claim to the next step.
File a Claim with the EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the organization in charge of investigation and acting upon harassment and discrimination claims in the workplace. To have grounds to file a harassment claim with the EEOC, you must submit evidence that you complained to your employer, your employer tried to correct the behavior, and that the employee responsible for the harassment refused to stop. Call (727) 254-5255 to start the claims process with the EEOC. You can also start your claim by mail or in person. Note that you only have 180 days from the date of the alleged harassment to file with the EEOC.
Consider a Lawsuit
Workplace harassment can have major impacts on the lives of victims. Many employees face pay cuts, lost work opportunities, demotions, job termination, retaliation, and even physical injuries and emotional harms because of harassment at work. If you’ve suffered losses of any kind because of a harassment situation in the workplace, talk to an attorney about your rights to sue your employer and/or the individual harassing you.
A lawsuit could be worthwhile if you have damages you wish to recover, or if your employer was negligent in preventing or stopping the problem. Contact Florin Gray if you want to explore what your legal options are.