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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy
Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

When does harassment become unlawful?

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2023 | Employment Law, Workplace Discrimination |

In the workplace, employees with various backgrounds can interact and form professional relationships necessary for thriving careers. Still, there are limits to their behavior, setting boundaries for misconduct that might be harassment or discrimination.

Fortunately, there are employment policies that address these unethical activities. This behavior can create a malicious workplace setting, potentially affecting employees and their abilities to make a living. Ideally, victims should contact an HR representative immediately to address the situation or take legal action for unlawful harassment.

Knowing when harassment is unlawful

Harassment can be unlawful based on the following factors:

  • The misconduct is repetitive, becoming a consistent part of the victim’s employment.
  • The behavior is severe enough to threaten the victim, creating an abusive or hostile setting that may have consequences.
  • The harassment is a form of retaliation against an employee who filed a discrimination charge.

Victims of these harassment types can receive protection under federal and state employment laws. If they fail to do so, other employees who suffered the effects of the harassment can report the perpetrators to HR or the relevant authorities.

Reporting harassment immediately

For employees to report harassment, they should know how to spot it. This inappropriate workplace behavior can take many forms, including offensive teasing, slurs, names, blatant threats, assault, humiliation, insults and other media that can interfere with performing work tasks.

Employers can take measures to prevent harassment and inform employees about how to exercise their rights against these types of misconduct. Additionally, victims should express whether others’ behavior at work is unwelcome and unwarranted. Reporting these incidents can help address them before they escalate and do more harm.