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What factors make harassment unlawful at work?

Harassment is a harmful form of discrimination that can adversely impact the workplace. Employees subjected to this type of misconduct can suffer depending on the severity of the incident. Sometimes, harassment can be subtle, making it almost unnoticeable to others. Other times, it can be severe, warranting immediate action from employees and employers.

There are also instances when the harassment meets specific conditions, qualifying it as unlawful. If so, the victim can take legal action against the perpetrator, depending on the circumstances. If you experienced harassment at work, it could be illegal based on the following factors:

  • Consistency – The harassment happens continuously, making it a condition that comes with being an employee in the organization.
  • Disruptiveness – It is severe enough to disrupt or affect the environment at work.
  • Reasonable fear – The misconduct caused the employees to feel abused or intimidated, making the workplace hostile or abusive.

If the incident has these elements, it could be unlawful. These instances often need detailed investigations and stringent procedures to determine the true extent of the harassment. Only severe cases may lead to grave penalties based on the law, but that does not mean you should ignore minor incidents.

Any petty forms of harassment can still call for disciplinary actions according to the company’s policy. If you encounter these types of misconduct, it is best to report them immediately to nip them in the bud.

Addressing harassment as an employee

As an employee, you might feel powerless against harassers, especially if they are high-ranking officers or managers. However, all employees have rights protected by law, including anti-harassment policies. If you face this form of misconduct at work, it is best to address it immediately. Doing so can allow your employer to impose sanctions based on the situation. If the incident qualifies as unlawful, you could seek legal advice to learn what to do next.