Sadly, many women don't yet understand the basics of workplace self-care. As a result, the effects of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation can make for an unpleasant work experience. In many cases, this can be emotionally, mentally, and even physically devastating. Some employees put up with this type of behavior in order to keep their jobs.
Workplace self-care is just as essential as physical and emotional self-care outside of work: getting adequate sleep, exercising, eating healthy, and staying hydrated. In the workplace, self-care starts with knowing your rights. Simply knowing your rights can help you deal with difficult situations on the job. If your human resources department acts properly and promptly, situations involving harassment, discrimination, and retaliation can be resolved.
In many cases, however, human resources isn't quick to act. Through an investigation, they may not find enough evidence to take disciplinary action. Furthermore, perpetrators of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation may go to great lengths to deny any wrongdoing. Your best course of action, in this case, is to consult with an experienced Ohio employment attorney who can launch an investigation and leave no stone unturned in the process.
What are your rights in the workplace?
The law prohibits discrimination of employees under a protected classification. That means you have the right not to be harassed or discriminated against. For example, the law prohibits employers from paying women less than men for performing the same work and having the same level of experience.
Additionally, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation may be illegal if they create a toxic work environment that many employees find intimidating, hostile or offensive. On the other hand, if incidents are generally mild and isolated, resulting in nothing more than occasional annoyances, it doesn't constitute illegality.
Behaviors that may be illegal in the workplace often include:
- Offensive jokes
- Racial slurs, insults, name-calling, ridicule
- Physical assault or threats of assault
- Harassment by using objects or pictures
- Interference with an employee's work performance
You are also protected from retaliation. For example, if you experienced sexual harassment on the job and reported it, your employer, supervisor, or other employees can't retaliate against you. When it's committed by supervisors or higher-ups in a company, retaliation often includes:
- Terminating employment
- Demoting an employee
- Creating a hostile or uncomfortable work environment for an employee
How you can take legal action
Everyone should be able to attend work without fear, intimidation, or being subject to uncomfortable situations. Should you find yourself in this situation (or if you already have), here are some actions you can take:
- Write down everything that happened: Include a detailed description of the incident, the date it happened, the location(s), and witnesses who were present.
- Take note of all incidents going forward: Take note of all incidents going forward. This can be done using notes on your cellphone or a note-taking app such as Incident Genie.
- Report the incidents: Bring the harassment, discrimination, or retaliation to the attention of human resources. If an incident crosses the line of legality, consider reporting it to law enforcement.
- Seek medical or psychological support: By doing so, you may provide a note from your doctor or psychologist to take time off from work.
- Take note of how the misconduct impacts you: Write down any feelings that arise as a result of workplace misconduct. This can include fear, intimidation, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, nausea, appetite loss, or other ailments that may arise.
- Consult with an employment lawyer: If you have experienced harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation in the workplace, you may be eligible to take action through a legal claim.
Nilges Draher LLC serves clients in greater Cleveland, Massillon, and Columbus, Ohio. We'll fight to hold accountable those who perpetrate workplace misconduct and those who allow it to happen. To find out how we can help you, contact us online and schedule your free consultation.