Different Types of Workplace Harassment & Creating a Legal Case Against It

harassment in the workplace

Different Types of Workplace Harassment & Creating a Legal Case Against It

Workplace harassment is a widespread problem throughout the States, and some types of workplace harassment are illegal. However, even the most conscientious HR may miss a sign of possible harassment in the office. We, at Legal Chiefs, believe that both employees and employers should be able to identify the most common types of workplace harassment and take the right measures. Below, on this page, you will find more information about how to recognize workplace harassment and how to handle the situation. 


#1. Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory harassment is defined by its intentions instead of how it’s carried out, unlike verbal or physical harassment. Also, all the illegal workplace harassment types are discriminatory, and below you can find their most common forms.

Racial Harassment

When someone is bullied because of their race, skin color, ancestry, origin country, or citizenship, they can file a legal against their bullies, and even perceived attributes of a certain ethnicity including curly hair, customs, accents, beliefs, or clothing may be the cause. 


Gender Harassment

Negative gender stereotypes about how men and women should or do act are often the center of the harassment, but every discriminatory behavior toward a person based on their gender is worth the attention.


Religious Harassment

Religious harassment narrows in specifically on the victim’s religious beliefs. In the most common cases, this is a result of intolerance towards religious holidays and traditions. Also, sometimes an individual could be a victim of religious jokes or being pressured to convert their religion. 


Disability-Based Harassment

This is a type of workplace harassment directed toward individuals who either: 

● Use disability services (workers’ comp or sick leave included)

● Are acquainted with a disabled person

● Suffer from a disability themselves


Sexual Orientation-Based Harassment

Gaining traction and recognition as a legitimate type of workplace harassment in recent years, sexual orientation-based harassment is a reason to file a legal case. 


Age-Based Harassment

Employees over the age of 40 are specifically protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in an attempt to promote the employment of older people and reduce age-based harassment.



#2. Personal Harassment

Personal harassment is not illegal but can be damaging, which is a good enough reason to seek professional help or filing a legal case. The most common examples of personal harassment include:

● Offensive jokes

● Inappropriate comments

● Critical remarks

● Personal humiliation

● Intimidation tactics

● Ostracizing behaviors



#3. Physical Harassment

Also referred to as workplace violence, physical harassment involves physical attacks or threats, and in some extreme cases, it can be classified as assault. Common behaviors include:

● Destroying property

● Threatening behavior and direct threats

● Physical attacks


While these can happen in any workplace environment, some industries are at higher risk. These include healthcare workers, social services employees, peace officers, teachers and educators, retail staff, and public transit drivers.



#4. Power Harassment

Another common situation where harassers often exercise their power by bullying an employee who is lower on the office hierarchy. In many cases those harassers are supervisors or managers, victimizing their subordinates. 



#5. Psychological Harassment

Any damage to a person’s psychological well-being often creates a domino effect, leading to physical health issues, and this is why psychological harassment deserves attention. Common examples are: 

● Opposing or challenging everything the victim says

● Discrediting or spreading rumors about the victim

● Belittling or trivializing the victim’s thoughts

● Isolating or denying the victim’s presence



#6. Cyberbullying

The convenience of instant messaging applications come with downsides as online bullies may take advantage of the speed and convenience a given app provides, resulting in: 

● Harassing messages sent directly to the victim

● Spreading lies/gossip on social media

● Humiliating mass email or mass chats 


While the federal law is not yet covering “cyberbullying”, the Department of Justice has noted that legal action is possible by prosecuting online misbehavior under another law. 



#7. Sexual Harassment

It’s a form of unlawful discrimination and is taken seriously by the courts and common examples of sexual harassment include: 

● Invading personal space in a sexual way

● Inappropriate sexual gestures

● Inappropriate sexual touching

● Sexual comments, jokes, questions

● Posting sexual posters

● Sharing sexual photos (pornography)



Dealing with Workplace Harassment

The best way of dealing with workplace harassment is to avoid it. However, regardless of how good your recruitment is, some industries are more vulnerable than others, especially when there are third parties involved. 


In other words, even with the best work policies and dedicated staff, workplace harassment can happen. Suppose you are having any doubts about possible workplace harassment. In that case, we at Legal Chiefs, advise you to seek professional help, and our goal is to connect people with experienced employment attorneys, all over the USA. 


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Employment Law FAQ

If you have been discriminated against, you can seek your rights as this is considered illegal by federal and state employment laws. If your employer has acted illegally, it is possible to sue them. Before you take any legal action, however, it is important to understand your rights as an employee and the HR policies at your workplace. Under employment law, it is prohibited to discriminate against any person in any of the following protected classes: ● Sex ● Race ● Religion ● Retaliation ● Sexual harassment Other prohibited activities are: ● Failing to afford employees adequate breaks ● Failing to pay earned overtime wages If you believe that your employer has violated your rights, you can take legal action against them. It is wise to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to evaluate the appropriate steps to enforce your rights.
If you qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and your employer still refuses to accept your leave request, this may be a solid legal claim. Your employer is likely violating your rights under the FMLA by refusing to approve your leave requests or terminating your employment for requesting leave in the first place. If you’re uncertain about whether you’ve been wrongfully terminated, here are some other examples of possible wrongful termination: ● Fired after filing a claim against the company ● After refusing illegal actions ● Retaliation over workers compensation claims ● If your employer has fired you in violation of public policy, company policy, or a written contract
An at-will state means a state in which an employer has the right to fire an employee at any time for any reason, as long as the basis for termination is not retaliatory, discriminatory, or illegal in nature. Simply said, if you work in an at-will state, your employer is allowed to fire you for any reason (sometimes with no reason at all), granted that there are certain exceptions and limitations. To better understand your employment rights in at-will states, it’s best to consult with a lawyer.
If you believe your employer is engaged in illegal activity, you can file a whistleblower claim to expose them. Whistleblowers are employees who report unethical or illegal conduct and are entitled to legal protection. Depending on the fraud or unethical situation, you may even be entitled to compensation for reporting your employer under the federal False Claims Act. Both federal and state laws protect whistleblowers regardless if they are in the public or private sector. However, before filing a claim to report your employer’s fraudulent behavior, it’s crucial to speak to an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you if you have enforced your rights. Unlawful retaliation includes demotions, suspensions, unfavorable or unethical treatment, and outright termination. If you believe your employer has mistreated you, you can contact an employment law attorney and discuss your options following illegal retaliation.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is part of federal law that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for health issues or family-related matters, such as childbirth and taking care of a newborn. If you take a leave of absence under FMLA, your employer is obligated to allow you to come back to work in the same capacity (or an equivalent position) as you had before your leave.
Generally, overtime pay is available to workers who work more than 40 hours per week. These employees are entitled to overtime wages that are typically one and a half times their regular hourly rate. However, there are exceptions to overtime pay, and some employees are not entitled to receive such wages. To ensure you’re eligible to receive overtime pay, you need to check with your supervisor/employer and consult with a legal expert.
Employment law is complex and sometimes difficult to understand without consulting a legal expert. If you’re in a situation that requires you to seek your rights or you’re not certain if your rights have been violated, it’s best to consult with a lawyer who can explain your situation and options. Deciding to file a claim against an employer is no easy decision, and it’s beneficial to do it with a legal expert by your side.