Workplace harassment is illegal. Employers have specific responsibilities under New York state law to deal with workplace harassment and other forms of injustice. So if you are a victim of workplace harassment, knowing how to protect yourself is important. First, you need to understand what constitutes workplace harassment to be able to identify it when it happens.
What Constitutes Workplace Harassment?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace harassment as any unwelcome or unwanted behavior that creates an unsafe or intimidating work environment. Workplace harassment can be in the form of verbal comments, written communications, physical gestures, and other disruptive or intimidating behavior. This can include but is not limited to:
- Inappropriate staring
- Offensive slurs, comments, jokes, or name-calling
- Physical assaults
- Mockery or ridicule
- Bullying or aggressive behavior
Who Can Be Held Liable for Workplace Harassment?
If you are harassed at work, the person doing the harassing, whether it is a coworker, supervisor, or non-employee, like a customer, can be held personally responsible for their unlawful conduct. Sometimes, the employer may be held accountable if they knew or should have known about the harassment but did not take the necessary action to stop it.
An employer may also be liable for workplace harassment if their policies and procedures do not appropriately address harassment or if they fail to enforce proper policies.
What Should You Do if You Have Experienced Workplace Harassment?
If you have experienced workplace harassment, it is best to take immediate action to protect yourself. Document the incidents and report them to the appropriate authority, like your supervisor, human resource department, or employer.
If that does not solve the issue, you can launch a complaint with a state, federal, or local government agency in accordance with the law. Your claim will be investigated, and the agency will either dismiss it or ask you and your employer to negotiate or mediate the dispute.
The agency will then give you a Notice of the Right to Sue letter, enabling you to pursue legal action against your harasser. However, you cannot file a claim in federal court until you launch a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Employees in New York are allowed to file their complaints with the state’s Division of Human Rights or pursue litigation.
Get Help From Our New York Employment Attorneys Today
If you believe you have been harassed in the workplace, contact Mizrahi Kroub for help. Our New York employment attorneys have over 40 years of collective experience helping victims of employment law violations, including workplace harassment.
Our attorneys will help you determine whether what you experienced can be considered harassment and advise on the best legal options to protect your rights and build a strong case against your harasser. Ready to get started? Call our practice at (212) 595-6200 to set up a consultation.
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