Harassment in the workplace is prohibited under federal and Missouri law. However, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be treated differently by your colleagues because of your gender, race or other attributes. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly at work, there are several steps that you can take in an effort to receive the respect that you deserve.
Harassment is generally defined as unwelcome behavior that creates an unpleasant or hostile working environment. Discrimination occurs when employment decisions are made primarily because of your race, age or some other protected attribute. It’s worth noting that poor behavior in itself doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of harassment or discrimination. For instance, if someone merely tells a joke that is in bad taste, you may not have a case. However, if you hear multiple jokes about your body, name or religious views, it may be grounds for legal action.
Dealing with workplace harassment and discrimination
The first step may be to talk to the person who is engaging in potentially harmful behavior. In many cases, simply bringing your concerns to a colleague’s attention is enough to achieve your goal of getting unwanted actions to stop. If that doesn’t work, you can talk to your supervisor or someone else within the company who you trust to take your discrimination allegations seriously.
If that doesn’t work
If efforts to handle the matter internally don’t work, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will investigate the claim on your behalf, and if there is reason to believe it has merit, the organization may engage in legal action on your behalf. In the event that your claim isn’t substantiated, you may still be able to take legal action on your own.
If your workplace discrimination claim is successful, you may receive compensation from your employer. You may also be reinstated to the position you held prior to being actually or constructively terminated. Other relief may apply depending on the circumstances of your case.