Workplace harassment has a specific legal definition and guidelines. However, disrespect and insensitivity in a Texas workplace can easily bleed over into even more damaging and troubling behaviors. Many human resources professionals emphasize the importance of building a positive culture of kindness and support in the workplace, not only to avoid harassment but also for the benefits it provides to the entire office.
Harassment is a specific type of unlawful activity that is based on protected factors under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other federal laws. These protected classes include sex, age, race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, and others. Sexual harassment of the quid pro quo type, where an employee is told their job is at risk if they do not engage in sexual activity, can be blatant. But hostile work environments can be more difficult to detect, especially in an atmosphere that allows disrespectful conduct to flourish.
Legally, harassing conduct must be unwelcome and pervasive, not simply a one-time incident. Harassment can also go in any direction; men can be and are victims of sexual harassment, for example. Disrespectful behavior that might not violate the law includes gossip, intimidating behavior, bullying, mocking or refusing to speak to another person, particularly when these behaviors cannot be linked to any particular protected class. However, workplaces that allow disrespectful conduct to flourish can help create an environment in which harassment develops and the workplace becomes unsafe.
An employee who has experienced harassment or discrimination on the job can consult an employment lawyer about the next steps that could be taken. A lawyer can review the situation to advise a worker about whether the behavior in question has crossed the line to harassment. A lawyer can provide advice to a worker in how to handle the situation inside the workplace as well as providing assistance in the case that a lawsuit becomes necessary.