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What constitutes workplace harassment?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2016 | Employment Law

Many Houston-area residents experienced some form of bullying during their childhood years. Children and teens often endure this kind of harassment – even if is unlawful – and they have a hard time making it stop. As an adult worker in Texas, things are different. No employee should ever have to endure workplace harassment and if such harassment does occur, the abused employee will be able to seek financial restitution in court for the damages the harassment caused him or her.

The different categories of workplace harassment

Do you go to work every day and face the fear of being made fun of because of your weight, your skin color, or the way you walk? The first step in preventing and stopping workplace harassment is being able to identify it when it happens. Let’s take a look at the various ways unlawful workplace harassment can manifest.

  • Racial, religious, sex and national origin harassment: This relates to harassment based on these categories. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes any kind of harassment illegal – be it verbal, physical or some other form – against workers due to their race, religion, sex or national origin.
  • Age: In some societies, getting older wins a worker more respect. In the United States, the opposite is often true. However, under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, all Americans are protected from harassment on the basis of their age.
  • Disability: Disability harassment may be obvious. Someone might be made fun of because they are different and suffer from a permanently debilitating condition like blindness, paraplegia or missing limbs. This category of harassment, however, can also include harassment on the basis of someone’s status as an obese person and other conditions.
  • Veteran status: Those who protected our country in the armed services should be given the utmost respect. However, “veteran status harassment” is something that many veterans are sadly forced to endure on the job. Veterans are protected from harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Marital status and sexual orientation: Depending on the situation, individuals can receive protection from harassment on the basis of their marital status and/or sexual orientation. Particularly now, as homosexual employees receive more protections from the law, this kind of abuse is being viewed more negatively by courts throughout the country.
  • Gender identification: In the past, transgender workers had to face the fear of discrimination and harassment if they expressed their gender identification on the job. Now, the legal climate is changing and these individuals may be able to seek legal protections if they are harassed or abused for their transgender status.

Stop workplace harassment now

The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are other forms of workplace harassment like harassment for one’s political beliefs, criminal history, occupation and source of income, citizenship status, heritage and status as a smoker or nonsmoker.

The bottom line is, if you are being ridiculed or made fun of on the job, or if you feel like you’re being bullied – verbally, physically or in any other way – state and federal employment law may be on your side. Victims of workplace harassment can and should seek legal protection, not only to make the bullying stop, but also to seek financial compensation for the pain, emotional turmoil and other financial damages the harassment has caused.