Verbal Harassment in the Workplace
If you have been harassed at work, you’re not alone. Verbal harassment in the workplace is common, but this doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it. Reporting the offender to your employer and the appropriate state agencies can help, but you may need assistance from a skilled attorney. Our team at the Mahoney Law Firm has extensive experience with workplace harassment cases and can help you determine your legal options.
In 2021, one in five American workers was subjected to verbal abuse, unwanted sexual attention, threats, or humiliating behavior in the workplace. One in eight American workers experienced direct verbal abuse or threats that same year.
You have the right to work in a harassment-free environment, so if you’ve been the victim of harassment or discrimination in an Illinois workplace, you can take legal action. Our team at the Mahoney Law Firm is well-versed in workplace verbal harassment cases and can help you navigate your case.
Understanding Verbal Harassment in the Workplace
Verbal abuse in the workplace involves hurtful or derogatory language directed toward another individual, often harming them emotionally or psychologically. It can take varying shapes, including slurs, insults, name-calling, and criticism. Sometimes, it appears in the guise of joking, but that doesn’t make it less inappropriate.
Examples of workplace harassment include derogatory jokes based on sex, racial or ethnic slurs, and unwelcome comments about a person’s religion. They may involve intimidation and threats as well.
Harassment at work isn’t always verbal. Examples of non-verbal harassment in the workplace include:
Unfortunately, the effects of workplace harassment often follow victims home. Studies demonstrate various effects associated with workplace harassment, including:
Additionally, employees may experience low self-esteem, increased stress, muscle tension, headaches, and changes in appetite. They may not be as productive at work, leading to a significant drop in their performance.
Legal Protections Against Verbal Harassment
Multiple laws are designed to protect employees from workplace harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees at the federal level. It “protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.”
The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on specific protected classes, including:
In Missouri, the Human Rights Act states that discrimination is illegal due to an individual’s race, color, ancestry, sex, disability, age, religion, or national origin in any aspect of employment.
Some cities in these states have specific local ordinances that add an extra layer of protection and clearly define inappropriate behavior. For example, Chicago’s Commission on Human Rights states that it is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on race, color, sex, or gender identity.
Workplace harassment becomes unlawful when enduring such conduct becomes conditional for continued employment or severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable individual would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Our team at the Mahoney Law Firm is thoroughly familiar with the applicable laws at the federal, state, and local levels. We can guide you on whether someone’s conduct has violated these laws and how you can protect your rights.
Reporting Verbal Harassment in the Workplace
As the employee, you have a legal responsibility to tell your employer when you have faced verbal harassment. Discuss the issue with your company’s human resources department. The staff cannot retaliate against you for reporting such behavior.
Is verbal harassment illegal? Yes, and you can hold your employer liable for failing to promptly and effectively stop the behavior. Employers who are aware of such conduct and allow it to continue can face claims for harassment or discrimination. They also face possible damage to the company’s reputation, lower employee morale, and increased employee turnover.
If your employer fails to take proper action, you can file a complaint with the appropriate authorities. At the state level, you can file a report with the Illinois or Missouri Department of Human Rights. At the federal level, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If these agencies determine that the alleged behavior meets the legal requirements, you have the grounds to file a lawsuit.
However, if these agencies do not think you have a discrimination or harassment case, the case doesn’t always end there. Contact an experienced attorney in your state, as they can examine the specifics of your case and explain your legal options.
Gather as much evidence as possible, which is crucial in these cases. Proving verbal harassment can be more complex than other forms of harassment, such as physical harassment. Keep a complete record of each occurrence, documenting what was said and when it happened.
Mahoney Law Firm: We Fight Back Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment at work, including sexually explicit conduct, comments, advances, and behavior, can create an atmosphere that makes it nearly unbearable to do your job.
The Mahoney Law Firm has seasoned experts in workplace harassment cases, including sexual harassment. Illinois employment attorney Ryan Mahoney has been fighting for the rights of employees throughout the state for over 16 years. He understands the difficulties surrounding sexual harassment cases and has dedicated his career to helping people stand up for their rights.
You have the right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment. If you are experiencing untoward attention or advances, our experienced team can help make things right.
Resources for Employees Facing Verbal Harassment
If you’re contending with verbal harassment in the workplace, here are a few helpful resources to familiarize yourself with your rights:
Remember, even if your state’s agencies don’t think you have a discrimination or harassment case, it isn’t necessarily the end of the road. With the help of a skilled employment lawyer, you can pursue damages for employment discrimination. You shouldn’t have to tolerate harassment at work, so seeking support and assistance is crucial.
The Importance of a Harassment-Free Workplace
Unfortunately, verbal harassment is shockingly common in the workplace, but it doesn’t mean you have to put up with it and the associated mental and physical problems it causes. You have the right to pursue legal action if you are or were the victim of harassment or discrimination at work.
But it doesn’t stop at the employee. Instead, employers must take the initiative and work toward a harassment-free workplace. By eliminating discrimination and harassment, employers can create a much safer and more productive environment for their employees.
Contact Mahoney Law Firm for Assistance With Your Case
If you are currently experiencing verbal harassment in the workplace, taking action and speaking up is essential. Know your rights and options for reporting such incidents and seek support from trusted resources.
If you experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past, or if your efforts to report current harassment have not stopped the behavior, contact the Mahoney Law Firm for assistance.
Remember, no one deserves to be harassed at work, and together we can create a safe and respectful workplace for all.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.
What Is Verbal Harassment in the Workplace?
Verbal harassment can take many shapes. Belittling and name-calling are common examples, as are negative comments involving race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.
Is Verbal Abuse Considered a Hostile Work Environment?
Verbal abuse can create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is defined as a workplace where an employee is subjected to severe or pervasive harassment or unwanted treatment that affects their ability to do their job.
Can an Employee Be Fired for Verbal Abuse?
If an employee reports verbal abuse, firing them for this would be considered unlawful retaliation. However, an employer can discipline an employee for verbally abusing another coworker. Such conduct is regarded as misconduct, which may result in that employee losing their job.