Ohio attorneys explain your rights, how to respond to harassment at work
Workplace harassment is a serious problem that demands immediate attention. Each year, far too many people experience some form of harassment on the job.
Just recently, a group of women who work for video game developer Activision Blizzard Inc. filed a harassment lawsuit, claiming they were subjected to constant sexual harassment due to the company’s ‘frat boy’ culture, according to Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, at a Tesla factory in California, current and former employees recently filed a harassment lawsuit against the company, which they claim has allowed other workers to make constant racist remarks and create a hostile work environment, according to The New York Post.
So just how common is workplace harassment? What constitutes harassment? What are the most common types of harassment? And what should you do if you’re being harassed at work? Below, you can find the answers to these questions and other useful information from experienced workplace harassment lawyers who represent workers throughout Ohio.
How common is workplace harassment?
Accurate workplace harassment statistics can be difficult to determine. Each year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigates thousands of harassment complaints the federal agency receives from employees around the country. In the past five years, for example, the EEOC has received 82,847 workplace discrimination complaints on average each year. During the same five-year time period, Ohio workers filed 2,505 workplace discrimination on average each year.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not report harassment in the workplace. For example, an estimated 72% of employees who experience sexual harassment in the workplace do not report such incidents, even though 82% of women have experienced sexual harassment at some point during their lifetime, according to i-sight. As a result, the EEOC annual workplace harassment statistics most likely only reflect a fraction of the actual number of workplace harassment incidents nationwide.
What constitutes workplace harassment?
Workplace harassment can cover a wide range. From physical harassment to verbal harassment or sexual harassment, there are many different ways employers or fellow employees can create a hostile work environment.
In terms of which types of harassment complaints the EEOC receives each year, the most common complaints each year involve the following types of cases. Please note that such statistics add up to more than 100% since some complaints involve several different types of harassment.
The most common workplace harassment complaints include:
- Workplace retaliation (53.8% of complaints received by the EEOC)
- Harassment or discrimination due to someone’s legally-protected disability (33.4% of EEOC complaints)
- Harassment or discrimination due to someone’s race (33%)
- Sexual harassment (32.4%)
- Age discrimination (21.4%)
- Harassment or discrimination due to someone’s national origin (9.6%)
- Racial discrimination or harassment (4.7%)
- Religious harassment or discrimination (3.7%)
- Equal pay discrimination (1.5%)
These are just some of the most common types of workplace harassment cases. There are many other types of cases. And each one requires its own unique strategy and approach depending on the specific circumstances of each incident.
How should employees respond?
If you are being harassed at work, it’s important to take certain steps right away to protect your rights and hopefully put an end to the harassment. The EEOC recommends taking the following steps in response to workplace harassment:
- If you are comfortable doing so, tell the person harassing you to stop doing so.
- If you are not comfortable confronting the person harassing you, tell your supervisor you are being harassed.
- In addition, you have the right to file a formal complaint with the EEOC. Certain deadlines (often 180 to 300 days from the date of the incident) apply for filing a formal complaint depending on the circumstances of your case. You can learn more about these deadlines and the EEOC’s formal complaint process on the EEOC’s website, which has a section devoted to “How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination.”
Other recommended steps if you are being harassed at work include:
- Keep a written record of exactly when and where each incident took place. Write down if there was anyone there at the time who witnessed what happened.
- If your harassment complaint involves receiving offensive emails or anything else in writing, make sure to print out a copy and save such documents in a secure place. This can be powerful proof of what you have been subjected to at work.
- If your harassment involves anything visual (offensive language written near your workspace, for example), take photographs of such offensive material immediately before it is removed or destroyed.
Not sure what to do next? When in doubt, call a lawyer. The sooner you talk to an experienced workplace harassment attorney, the better.
How can a lawyer help?
Having a lawyer on your side who understands the state and federal laws that apply to workplace harassment cases in your community can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your case. In particular, your attorney can make sure you fully understand all the legal options available to you and serve as your voice for justice with your employer, the EEOC, and any other state or federal agency investigating your harassment complaint.
The Ohio attorneys at Nilges Draher LLC have years of experience handling complex legal cases involving workplace harassment throughout the state. We’re well versed in the state and federal laws that apply to employers and employees in Ohio. As a result, we can advise you on the best way to proceed in your legal matter.
Learn more about how we can help you with your workplace discrimination or harassment complaint. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation with one of our highly skilled attorneys. Our law firm has three offices conveniently located in Cleveland, Columbus, and Massillon, Ohio.