Should You Take Legal Action When Being Harassed or Bullied at Work?
Even in legal terms, harassment is something that can be difficult to evaluate. The specific laws on harassment vary from state to state and the definition of what is considered harassment also varies. However, one common thing that holds true for every situation is that harassment can broadly be qualified as being physical, mental, sexual, religious, or racial in nature. Moreover, there is no fixed pattern regarding whether men or women are more prone to certain types of harassment, both genders face all kinds of harassment.
Many cases of bullying and harassment go unnoticed and unaccounted for because the victims fail to recognize that they are being harassed. They shrug it off, thinking that it’s just a joke or maybe they are taking the situation more seriously than it really is. In these cases, it’s often too late when the person finally realizes that they are being mistreated. Since they have stayed quiet for so long, they become less likely to take any action at all, and the offenders go unpunished. There is no harm in taking legal action if you feel like you are being treated unfairly at work. These are the steps you should take to get legal cover against the inappropriate behavior you are facing.
In many cases of bullying at work, the victim is facing more than one kind of inappropriate behavior, but they fail to recognize this. There are several forms of harassment that a person could face, and many of these can overlap each other. For instance, while a person is being attacked verbally, the basis of the harassment may be religious or racial. Moreover, people who are being harassed one way are far more likely to be victims of more forms of harassment. If you are thinking about approaching legal help, then discuss the problem with your attorney to determine exactly which forms of harassment you are victim to, and to what degree.
There are several government institutions that you can approach to discuss the case with and to seek help from. While these institutions can give you advice and can take note of the employer who is carrying out these unprofessional practices, they cannot take any legal action by themselves. If you are going to trial, then the Employment and Consumer Law Group advises you to choose a lawyer with experience in managing harassment cases. When your employer is found guilty of inappropriate behavior, the individual who committed the crime as well the company that they are a part of will have action taken against them.
Victims of harassment at the workplace are often reluctant to take action because they fear that they will lose their job or their personal security will be threatened. Experts at the Harvard Business School have found that even though nearly 70% of women do not report harassment, bystanders who are witnesses to it are even less likely to support them in a claim. Just like any legal case, defendants need evidence and supporting witnesses. If you could help a victim, you could potentially save their life.
If the problem can be diffused outside of court, that is a great solution. Talking to your superiors, talking to legal authorities, and getting in touch with the concerned departments are all good solutions. If none of this helps, or the bully is blindly persistent in their negative behavior, then you have no option but to take legal action. Quitting the job or choosing to ignore the problem will not solve the difficulty that you are experiencing. On the contrary, if you leave it unaddressed, the problem will only escalate over time.
Many individuals who are victims of harassment shrug off the matter in most cases as they don't want to be seen as a snitch. Reporting harassment or reporting a behavioral problem with a colleague makes it an uncomfortable environment for the victim as they continue to work with that person. Sooner or later, other colleagues also come to know of the ongoing problem and that makes the situation even more tense and uncomfortable for the victim. The only escape is when the situation finally reaches a conclusion and the oppressor is found to be guilty. A lot of harassment victims in the workplace fear that they may not win the case, and the managers or authorities that they are taking up the problem with, will side with the oppressor and they will be left embarrassed with nothing to prove that they were really the victims. If this happens, the oppressor will be even more likely to expand on their already negative behavior, only worsening the situation for the victim. This is why taking legal action is even more important as, through the law, you can get the support that you need and safely deal with the person who is bothering you.