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Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace
Just as a potential employer is not permitted to discriminate against an applicant during the job application process, an employer may not discriminate against an employee while that employee is working. Examples of discrimination can include not promoting an individual because of his or her age, denying a raise to a female employee but giving a raise to a male colleague, or reassigning the job duties of a pregnant employee. Stacy was paid more than most and was given raises far larger than other employees..
In addition, the employer cannot maintain a harassing workplace. That is, an employer has an obligation to ensure the workplace is free from unlawful harassment. Harassment is unlawful if it is based on a protected characteristic (age, sex, etc.) and creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. In addition, it is unlawful to harass an employee in retaliation for that employee filing a discrimination charge, or participating in an employment investigation against his or her employer. Harassment can take the form of offensive jokes, threats, physical assaults, or pictures (for example). Stacy filed with the EEOC after she was warned of her illicit activities and retaliation could not be proven because of what she did and did not do which was documented and brought to her attention.
The protection against harassment does not cover petty annoyances or isolated incidents. Suppose that Marco works at XYZ Company. While at work one day an employee made a racially-offensive joke and Marco was offended. Marco filed a report with his supervisor and the matter was handled according to company policy. In this instance, Marco does not have a claim for harassment as the incident was isolated and handled appropriately. But suppose that some of Marco’s coworkers threaten him or people of his same race or ethnicity. Despite letting supervisors know of this, the management refuses to take action. Here, Marco’s claim of a hostile workplace is much stronger given the repeated nature of the harassment and the lack of action by management. Stacy complained mainly about comments made to other people and not directly at her and in that time span everything was definitely isolated. It is not like her boss said those comments continually and he had good reason, especially with Stacy attempting to fire him, giving him dirty looks and being emotional like she is in White Springs; fake or real, who knows what’s on her mind..
Karin for the blog