Federal laws protect workers from being harassed in a number of ways in the workplace. Although these laws are generally well publicized, there are still many incidences that take place. Often times, it is necessary to retain the services of a law firm that specializes in workplace harassment to take strong and swift action against an employer.
Individual acts of harassment can take many forms, but in general, harassment falls into two broad categories: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo Defined
Quid pro quo translated means “this for that.” Essentially, it means that an employer will make a decision about an employee such as a raise, promotion, demotion, termination, or other tangible impact based on the employee’s acceptance or rejection of conduct that is unwelcome. Examples of this may include a supervisor who denies a promotion to a subordinate for not being sexually cooperative or a supervisor who requires a subordinate to participate in religious activities as a condition of employment.
Hostile Work Environment Defined
A hostile work environment can result when there is unwelcome conduct by any person that an employee interacts with on their job. This can include supervisors, co-workers, customers, contractors, or anyone else that the employee comes into contact with during the course of their workday. Examples of unwelcome behaviors can include discussing sexual activities; unnecessary touching; using indecent gestures; crude language; sabotaging the victim’s work; engaging in hostile or intimidating actions; threats against the employee; engaging in inappropriate discussions regarding race, sex, disability; or other protected issues among others.
When in Doubt, Consult an Attorney
Your workplace should be free and clear of these types of harassment and hostility that can make it difficult to do your job or put unwanted stress on you. Many employers will take steps to remedy these types of situations, but in those cases where the response is inadequate; you must take steps to protect yourself from harassing behavior.