Understanding your rights is key to avoiding a hostile work environment. One way that an employer may foster a hostile work environment is by harboring employees or other entities that engage in harassment.
Harassment is a form of discrimination that violates the title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers unwelcome conduct that comes on the basis of religion, color, race, national origin, age, genetic information, disability or sex including pregnancy as harassment.
When is harassment against the law?
Understanding that mild annoyances do not constitute harassment is vital. It is unlikely that an isolated incident between you and an employee will rise to the level of harassment unless the incident was extremely serious in nature. Simply having a disagreement with a coworker or a superior is not harassment.
In order for harassment to be against the law, the conduct in question must constitute a work environment that reasonable people would find hostile, offensive or intimidating.
What can harassment include?
Harassment may take many forms. It could involve offensive jokes or slurs. It may even rise to the level of physical assaults or threats; it could involve the offensive pictorial depictions or iconography. Generally speaking, harassment will interfere with your ability to perform your job at work.
It is possible for the harasser to be your direct supervisor, a supervisor of another area, A co-worker, a non-employee related to your place of employment or an agent of the employer. You also do not need to be the person harassed in order to bring a lawsuit regarding harassment against your employer.