Unfortunately, in modern day America, the term “harassment” has a perceived stigma in the workplace. While it would be a good thing for corporate America to acknowledge the pain and embarrassment felt by individuals who endure it daily, many still believe it to be another word for “employee leverage.”
The truth is that harassment comes in many forms and regardless of the reason for it, it is wrong. Sexual harassment, of course, has been the most commonly spoken about. This is defined as unwelcomed advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct perceived as such when the refusal by the victim leads to a hostile, unsafe, and unproductive work environment. While this term is most frequently associated with a case of a man as the guilty party and a woman on the receiving end, the truth is that either a man or woman can be brought to court for such a claim, and the victim can be the opposite sex – or the same sex as the accused. In fact, the accused party does not have to be a boss or even a co-worker.
Harassment, in general, is the continued actions of one party toward another that are designed to provoke a response. It can be a result of prejudice, personal malice, sexual interest, money owed, or just out of spite. Generally speaking, the cases of harassment that will be heard in court are those that are seen as a form of discrimination, involving bill collectors, occurring between ex-spouses, or those which involve blackmail.
With that knowledge in mind, it is important to understand that harassment is illegal and should not be tolerated. Every person has the right to work in an environment free of negative provocation. If you feel that the actions of another individual(s) fit within the definition above, then you should speak to an attorney about your rights.