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Dealing with harassment at the workplace

Employees in California may benefit from learning more about workplace harassment, as defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC defines harassment as employment discrimination in violation of the American Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The harassment can be described as any conduct directed towards religion, color, race, disability, age, or nationality that is unwelcome. The EEOC considers this conduct to be unlawful if it meets certain criteria.

It becomes unlawful when the worker is required to endure offensive conduct in order to remain employed. It is also unlawful if the offensive conduct is so severe that it creates a work environment that would be considered to be abusive, hostile or intimidating to any reasonable person. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who files a complaint about discrimination at the workplace. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who contribute to a discrimination investigation or file a lawsuit.

The laws also protect people who oppose discriminatory practices being used in the workplace. Offensive conduct that may be considered to be unlawful if it creates an adverse work environment can include offensive jokes, intimidation, threats, any form of assault or displaying offensive material, among others. According to the EEOC, the harasser may be identified as a direct supervisor, co-worker, another supervisor in the organization, a customer or some other type of non-employee.

Employees who feel victimized by discrimination at the workplace may benefit from contacting a lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to investigate the incident and determine what remedies may be available.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Harassment", November 02, 2014

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