What is Workplace Harassment?
Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. In the employment law context, harassment occurs when someone discriminates against you by bothering or annoying you for an illegal reason. Workplace harassment, often called a “hostile work environment,” is illegal only if it is so severe or pervasive (frequent) that it effectively changes the terms and conditions of your employment. So, for example, one extremely serious act of harassment can be illegal. But more commonly it is a number of relatively minor actions over a period of weeks, months or years that combines to create a hostile work environment.
We understand that workplace harassment can be extremely disruptive to your job and your life, and often causes severe emotional distress. In fact, if it is serious enough, or continues for a long enough period, it even can cause you to choose to leave your job in what is called a “constructive discharge.” If you have been the victim of harassment at your job in New Jersey or New York, we can help and you should contact us.
What Forms of Harassment Are Legally Actionable?
Not all harassment is illegal. Rather, the harassment has to be motivated by an illegal reason. For example, in New York and New Jersey workplace harassment is illegal if it is based on your age, color, gender, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation or veteran or military status. Harassment is unlawful if it is a form of unlawful retaliation, or violates certain other employment laws like a state or federal wage and hour law, or the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
What Are Common Examples of Harassment?
Harassment can take many different forms. For example, it can include the use of derogatory or offensive comments and jokes, stereotypes, names and other behavior that is insulting or derogatory. It also can include assigning you work that is undesirable or inconsistent with your job title and experience, such as assigning you to menial tasks without justification.
Likewise, a hostile work environment can include unfair negative performance evaluations, over-scrutinizing or nitpicking your job performance, or isolating you from your coworkers. Yet another common form of harassment is threatening and intimidating behavior, such as unwarranted yelling or threats of physical violence. Numerous other types of negative conduct can be part of a hostile work environment if it is directed at you because of your age, gender, race, disability or the fact that you are in another legally protected category.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is harassment that occurs because of the fact that you are a woman or a man. Sexual harassment often is sexual in nature. However, it is illegal to harass someone because of his or her gender even if it is not sexual all. More information is available on our sexual harassment page.
Hire an Experienced Employment Lawyer
You should not have to work in a hostile work environment. If you have been harassed at work in either New Jersey or New York, our employment law attorneys can help. We invite you to call us at (973) 744-4000 or contact us by filling out our online form.