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Federal Laws Prohibit Workplace Harassment

Under federal law, harassment of employees by other employees or their employers is strictly illegal. This includes harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or parental status.

At The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell, we understand many employees who experience harassment at work may feel intimated to take the necessary action to stop harassment until the situation becomes dire. Many fear they will lose their job. But you have a right to a workplace free of harassment. Call 202-899-1307 to confidentially discuss your concerns. We have in-depth experience successfully resolving myriad employment law concerns.

The Two Types Of Unlawful Harassment

Prohibited harassment can take one of the two forms: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment usually results in a clear employment decision based on the employee’s acceptance or rejection of sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. It can also result from unwelcome contact of a religious nature.

The harassment is usually committed by a person who can make employment-based decisions that affect the victim. Examples include a supervisor who denies promotion to an employer for refusing to engage in sexual acts and a supervisor who requires a subordinate to participate in religious activities.

Hostile work environment harassment results from the unwelcome conduct of co-workers, supervisors, customers, contractors or anyone else the victim interacts with while on the job. Examples include discussing sexual activities, unwelcome touching, indecent gestures, crude language, off-color jokes, demeanor or inappropriate terms, commenting on physical attributes or engaging in hostile physical contact.

Frequently Asked Questions On Workplace Harassment Issues

At The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell, we regularly receive questions about workplace harassment law. Here are short answers to some of the most frequent questions.

What is the difference between harassment and discrimination?

The main difference is the presence of adverse employment action. Discrimination always involves an adverse employment action, but harassment can simply involve offensive conduct in the form of jokes, verbal comments or touching.

What constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, repeated gestures or comments of a sexual nature, deliberate display of sexually graphic materials, or verbal or physical sexual conduct.

What would be considered a hostile work environment?

A hostile work environment is typically uncomfortable and stressful, and it impacts the psychological or physical well-being of an employee at the workplace because of inappropriate conduct. In the legal world, such an environment exists if the employee experiences harassment that interferes with his or her work performance. Hostile work environments are common in harassment claims.

What steps are employers required to take to prevent sexual harassment?

Employers are encouraged to provide workplace education about what constitutes sexual harassment and the types of effects it can have on victims. Employers should also institute policies that are conducive to reporting incidents when they occur.

Is the employer always liable for harassment perpetrated by supervisors or employees?

The employer can only avoid liability if it is able to prove that it took reasonable steps to prevent and correct the harassing behavior and if the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of these corrective or preventive opportunities.

Do Not Hesitate To Contact Us

For more information about how you can file a workplace harassment claim and the steps you need to take in your case, email us or call 202-899-1307 to schedule an appointment with our trusted employment law attorney at The Law Office of Nigel M. Atwell.