Michelle Cohen Levy

Honest.
Approachable.
Responsive.

Rude behavior and disrespect may actually be workplace harassment

| May 27, 2021 | Employment Law |

Most people are on their best behavior when they’re at work. They usually don’t say rude things to others, even when provoked, because these are people whom they have to work with every day. Still, some people are rude. They say mean things or are disrespectful to those around them.

There’s no rule that a person can’t be rude or a jerk at work, but other employees do have a right to work in a safe, productive environment. There is a line between being disrespectful and harassing others, but it’s extremely thin. Pushing the envelope just a little too far could result in someone being terminated for their behavior.

What is the difference between harassment and disrespect?

To meet the legal standard that would be expected in a harassment case, you would have to show that the conduct of the offending individual is both pervasive and unwelcome. One instance of an argument with a coworker, barring any discriminatory or abusive language, is unlikely to lead to a harassment case.

However, making repeated comments or causing disputes many times could make the workplace hostile and lead to harassment claims.

Disrespectful behavior should still be addressed, even if it’s not harassment

Disrespectful behavior should be addressed even when it’s not harassment, because it doesn’t make the workplace a nice place to be. Those who are the targets of this behavior may feel bullied or upset. They shouldn’t have to put up with that.

Certain actions aren’t necessarily unlawful, such as a one-off threat or a bit of gossip, but they can become harassment if they continue. This is why it’s important for you to report an instances of disrespect you face, so that you can take a stand against it. If your employer refuses to take action, then keep notes on that behavior and be ready to make your case if it eventually grows into harassment.

A respectful atmosphere at work makes all the difference

It’s important to promote a respectful work environment. This will also help make the workplace safer for everyone there, reduce the likelihood of conflict and improve everyone’s experience on the job.