Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.
Employees should also report harassment to management at an early stage to prevent its escalation.
Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.
Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following: Prevention is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace.
Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality.
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Employers are encouraged to take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment.
They should clearly communicate to employees that unwelcome harassing conduct will not be tolerated.
The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages.
They can do this by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process, providing anti-harassment training to their managers and employees, and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.