Employees can face various types of harassment in the workplace and may not know what to do to address it. This may include discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation.
There are several laws in the U.S. that address workplace harassment. These include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits harassment based on color, religion, sex or national origin and the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which protect employees against harassment based on disability and age.
Discrimination happens when an employee is treated unfairly because of a protected status like race, color, age or religion, among others. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, explicit comments and unwanted touching.
Bullying is often demonstrated with insults, isolation, belittling or intimidating an employee. Cyberbullying can include some of the same behavior, but instead of in person it is done through email, social media posts or messages.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for reporting harassment. This includes demoting or terminating the employee or creating a hostile work environment.
The employee should keep a record of the incidents, including any witnesses, dates, times, locations and an explanation of what happened. Also, many companies have policies against harassment and discrimination which can be helpful to review.
The employee can report the harassment to the human resources department or to their supervisor. They may have an option to file a formal internal complaint as well. If that does not resolve the situation, the employee has the option to file an external complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other relevant government agency.