People who experience workplace harassment often suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, diminished self-esteem, and fear. When the harassment comes from a boss or supervisor, employees also feel a tremendous sense of powerlessness.
By nature, there is an unequal power dynamic between a supervisor and an employee. However, that never gives the supervisor the right to abuse their authority. You have rights and legal options for stopping mistreatment in the workplace.
What Is Workplace Harassment?
Workplace harassment is considered a type of unlawful employment discrimination. Harassment involves any conduct that is:
- Based on a person’s protected characteristic (e.g., race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin, age, or genetic information)
- Offensive and unwelcome
- Severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment
To be unlawful, the harassment must create a hostile work environment or a setting that a reasonable person would consider abusive and unacceptable.
Types of Harassment at Work
Harassment at work can come in different forms, including:
- Verbal harassment: Demeaning or inappropriate remarks, insults, slurs, or offensive “jokes”
- Physical harassment: Any form of unwanted touching or threats of violence
- Sexual harassment: Inappropriate touching, unwanted sexual advances, jokes or comments of a sexual nature, sharing pornography, or demanding or requesting sexual favors in exchange for benefits at work
- Digital harassment (cyberbullying): Posting demeaning or threatening comments on social media, creating fake profiles to bully someone online, or otherwise making false statements or allegations about someone online
- Psychological harassment: Withholding information or otherwise excluding an individual, taking credit for a worker’s achievements, or persistently rejecting or undermining a worker’s suggestions
Signs of Harassment in the Workplace
Unfortunately, there is a grey area between interpersonal conflicts between workers and conduct that constitutes workplace harassment. Signs that you might be experiencing harassment at work include:
- You are subjected to offensive or unwelcome conduct by your supervisor.
- Your supervisor’s behavior is motivated by demeaning one of your protected characteristics.
- Your supervisor’s conduct is targeted at you or at a group of employees that share the same characteristic.
- The conduct has changed the conditions of your employment. This could include measurable changes, such as a demotion or pay cut, as well as psychological trauma.
Is My Boss Harassing Me?
Your boss may be guilty of engaging in illegal workplace harassment against you if they:
- Make crude or offensive statements based on a protected characteristic
- Demand favors from you (usually of a sexual nature) in exchange for job benefits or for avoiding adverse employment actions
- Engage in unwanted touching
- Belittle you, assign undesirable or menial tasks you, or impose unreasonable deadlines or requirements for your job duties
How to Report Job Harassment
Not sure how to report your manager for harassment? Here’s what you need to know:
Before you formally report harassment, make sure to record every instance of harassment, including notes about what was said, when it was said, and other people who may have witnessed it. Then, report the mistreatment to your company’s human resources officer or department. In many cases, employers will take action to resolve workplace harassment by transferring or terminating the offending employee.
Filing a Claim for Workplace Harassment
If your employer cannot or will not act to resolve the harassment you are experiencing, you might choose to file a harassment claim. A claim starts with filing a complaint with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These agencies will investigate your complaint and either act independently or authorize you to file a lawsuit against your employer to demand accountability.
Get Help From an Experienced Workplace Harassment Lawyer
Are you the victim of harassment by a boss or supervisor? Contact the Employment and Consumer Law Group today for a free consultation. Our workplace harassment attorneys will listen to your story and help you understand the options available to you. Call or contact us now.