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What actually constitutes workplace “harassment”?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Employment Law |

Workplace harassment is actually a form of discrimination. And, as a result, employees in Oregon who have experienced harassment in the workplace may be able to pursue legal options to hold their employers accountable. However, the first step is to understand what actually constitutes harassment in the workplace.

Can harassment be defined?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment constitutes “unwelcome conduct” that is based on some particular aspect of a person’s identity. As our readers can probably imagine, that is quite a broad and oftentimes vague definition to apply to any given situation.

A person may have differences with others that are based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, national identity or even religion, among other factors. But, if harassment is based on one of these factors, it could be a form of discrimination.

So, what kind of conduct actually reaches the level of “harassment”? The EEOC makes it clear that one-time incidents or “petty” slights probably will not rise to the level of harassment for legal purposes.

It seems that the main aspect of conduct that constitutes harassment is conduct that is repeated and serious enough to lead a reasonable person to believe that the workplace environment is becoming hostile, offensive or even intimidating.

Jokes, threats, insults and, of course, physical contact may all be forms of conduct that could be considered harassment.

If you believe you have suffered from harassment in the workplace, you may have legal options to consider. However, these types of claims are notoriously fact-sensitive and can be difficult to prove. Be sure to have your potential claim carefully reviewed.



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