Federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1981, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act) and State law (Florida Civil Rights Act) prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of:
- Disability and Handicap
- National Origin
- Genetic Information
- Marital Status
Discrimination can take many forms. At Florin Gray Bouzas Owens we understand that one common form is through harassment by supervisors and co-workers. Most people are familiar with sexual harassment, but employees in Florida are harassed because of their race, gender, age, pregnancy, marital status, disability, handicap, national origin, and religion. The most common form of harassment occurs when a supervisor or co-worker creates a hostile work environment for another employee. Common forms of harassing and offensive conduct that our Florida harassment attorneys often see are: slurs, distasteful jokes, threats, name calling, insults, unwelcome touching, offensive pictures or objects and a variety of other verbal and physical harassment that interferes with an employee’s work.
The Employer Has the Responsibility to Put a Stop to the Harassment
For the most part, the individual harasser cannot be held legally responsible for his or her harassing conduct; only the employer can be held liable. Therefore, the employer must be put on notice of the supervisor’s or co-worker’s harassing behavior in order for the employer to have the opportunity to promptly and effectively stop the harassment.
Although hostile work environment harassment is most common, harassment is actionable when a supervisor’s harassment results in an adverse employment action toward the employee such as termination, demotion, loss of wages or failure to promote. In situations like these, the employer is automatically liable for the supervisor’s harassing behavior.
Being the victim of harassment at work is degrading, embarrassing and terrifying. Unfortunately, many harassers do not cease when an employee demands that the harassing behavior stop. Moreover, many employers simply fail to take prompt and corrective action to eradicate the harassment in the workplace. In these situations, many workers feel that they are left with little or no alternatives. Do you feel this way? Have you been a victim of harassment in the workplace? If so, we’re here to help.
Florida Harassment Attorneys
Florin Gray Bouzas Owens is dedicated to protecting Florida’s workers from harassment in the workplace. If you believe that you are a victim of harassment in the workplace, please contact our Florida Harassment Attorneys for a free consultation.
To learn more about harassment in the workplace, you can visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website. We have provided a few of our frequently asked questions about Harassment in the workplace to get you started.
Harassment Frequently Asked Questions
As the victim of harassment in the workplace, there are many answers and information that could guide you in the right direction in terms of exercising your rights. Asking an attorney your most pressing questions is an important step in pursuing justice for your harassment experience. We are more than happy to discuss your unique questions during a free consultation in Tampa Bay, but in the meantime, we hope these frequently asked questions and answers can help.
Who does the law protect from workplace harassment?
There are federal employment laws that protect workers from harassment and discrimination in the workplace. These laws don’t only apply to employees of a company, but also to new job applicants and former employees. Under federal laws, an “employee” is someone who works temporarily, seasonally, part-time, or full-time. People involved in work programs are also employees, as are (in some cases) volunteers and undocumented immigrants.
Does harassment have to be sexual?
No. Harassment can mean any kind of behavior or action that makes the workplace feel hostile. While sexual harassment is a common type of harassment complaint, other forms can include race-related harassment, teasing about a disability, making age-related jokes, or name-calling that interferes with work. Your boss or coworker need not physically touch you or engage in sexual harassment for you to have claim against him or her.
As an employer, what responsibilities do I have?
According to federal law, all employers have the responsibility to reasonably prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The laws apply to all employers with at least one employee. Your responsibilities include not discriminating against applicants based on a protected class, providing reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs and disabilities, and not retaliating against employees for reporting harassment. Learn more about your responsibilities through the EEOC website.
How can I prevent harassment and discrimination as an employer?
Preventing harassment and discrimination is not only part of your legal job under federal law as an employer, but something you should do for the good of your employees. From the first day you hire a worker, inform him or her that you prohibit harassment. Tell the employee where to report harassment within the company, such as a human resources department. Let him or her know that the company will not punish employees for asking questions about harassment or reporting issues. Respond promptly to any reports within your workplace, and make sure all managers understand their duties to prevent and address harassment.
What should my employee complaint procedure entail?
The steps employers can take early on can make a big difference in preventing this issue in the workplace. One of the most important aspects is to create an anti-harassment policy with a set complaint procedure. This encourages employees to take action when they see or experience something against the rules. Employers should tell employees to report issues before they become severe. There should be more than one individual available to hear complaints, and all complaints should be confidential. Most importantly, employers should address all harassment complaints, either written or verbal.
Can I file a harassment claim against someone other than a supervisor?
Yes. Anyone can be a harasser. It does not have to be a supervisor or higher-up to qualify as harassment or discrimination. A coworker or client could also be the focal point of your harassment case. Your harasser also does not have to be of the opposite sex. Male-male and female-female harassment is just as much against the law as male-female harassment.
What should I do if I think someone is harassing me at work?
First, report your experience to the proper authority in your workplace. This might be your supervisor, your HR department, or someone else. Report what happened and who was involved. If your supervisor does not take action to remedy the situation, your next step is to file a report with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate your complaint and potentially take action on your behalf. If you’re still experiencing harassment or you desire compensation for your losses, take your case to a lawyer. The team at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens can help you work through your case.
“I was so thankful to have had the legal assistance of Florin Gray Bouzas Owens to help me in my recent Employment case. They helped me understand all my legal options and answered each question or concern in a professional, ethical and honest manner. We established an excellent rapport and the attorneys always communicated openly with me, guiding me through the legal decision making process. The team was available to me at all times either by phone or via e-mail and was responsive to my concerns. I highly recommend Florin Gray Bouzas Owens for any and all Employment issues you may have.” – Deb