tbar220
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Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:50 am

I suspect workplace harassment. How do I know if there is a legal basis with this? How do I know if there is legal basis with sexual harassment as well? It is coming from a coworker and not a boss. Is there any threshold for workplace harassment between coworkers? Any information would be helpful. Thanks.
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Aaron747
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:07 am

Very hard to offer any specifics without knowing a lot more than what you've posted - and likely some of the JDs on here would ask further questions. This may be a good place to start:

http://research.lawyers.com/Illinois/Employment-Law-in-Illinois.html
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ajd1992
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:58 pm

Talk to a lawyer and see what happens from there - they are far more qualified to comment on this than we are.

I hope it's resolved quickly.

Quoting tbar220 (Thread starter):
Is there any threshold for workplace harassment between coworkers?

For me, the odd sex related joke would be OK. Any more than that (verbal or otherwise) is definitely grounds for a sexual harassment case.
 
dragon6172
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 2:47 pm

Quoting tbar220 (Thread starter):
Is there any threshold for workplace harassment between coworkers?

The threshold is when someone is uncomfortable with the actions of someone else. It can vary a lot. With the exception of extreme circumstances, I think someone is obligated to tell a coworker they are offended or uncomfortable with their actions. If it continues after that then appropriate measures should be taken.

Absolutely no legal basis for anything I have said of course... just my opinion.
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N1120A
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:26 pm

Talk to an employment lawyer. The best site to find one in your area is probably www.nela.org, the National Employment Lawyers Association website.
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PITingres
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:36 pm

Quoting tbar220 (Thread starter):
It is coming from a coworker and not a boss.

If your company has an HR department, talk to them before you start dragging lawyers into it. If no HR is available, talk to your boss. Try to resolve this within the company first. That goes for union employees too -- I'd always give the company a chance to fix things first. If they don't, then go to your union and/or outside legal help.

It doesn't have to be illegal to be worth fixing.

Edited to add: just looked at your profile, "company" goes for non-commercial organizations too!

[Edited 2010-11-21 09:38:15]
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Superfly
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:05 pm

Bring back the Concorde
 
Type-Rated
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:13 pm

And be careful when dealing with HR. They are definitely not your friends. One of their functions is to intercept employee complaints and deal with them before they become a problem. They don't call HR "Human Resources" for nothing.
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AR385
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:43 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 7):
And be careful when dealing with HR. They are definitely not your friends. One of their functions is to intercept employee complaints and deal with them before they become a problem. They don't call HR "Human Resources" for nothing.

I second that. HR department is about avoiding any trouble of any kind between the COMPANY and the employees as well as covering the COMPANY´S ass first. No matter who is in the wrong. And then, once you raise a serious issue with them, you are tagged forever. Maybe not officially, but you are.

Better talk to a lawyer first, because:

1) Your lawyer will have YOUR best interest in mind. Not the company´s
2) When you go to your HR dept. You will already know your options if what HR tells you sounds like BS to you.
3) You will know you have perfectly solid ground to stand on when dealing with your complaint.
4) Your lawyer will tell you if the trouble you are having is worth pursuing further with the company, knowing what you will be risking.
5) He will be there to advise you if your grievance is not dealt by your company in a satisfying manner to you.
 
iairallie
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:17 pm

Quoting AR385 (Reply 8):
Better talk to a lawyer first, because:

1) Your lawyer will have YOUR best interest in mind. Not the company´s
2) When you go to your HR dept. You will already know your options if what HR tells you sounds like BS to you.
3) You will know you have perfectly solid ground to stand on when dealing with your complaint.
4) Your lawyer will tell you if the trouble you are having is worth pursuing further with the company, knowing what you will be risking.
5) He will be there to advise you if your grievance is not dealt by your company in a satisfying manner to you.

Agreed talking to a lawyer doesn't mean lawsuit they can also give you practical advice about your rights and how to proceed to hopefullly resolve the issue without getting to a lawsuit stage.
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GQfluffy
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:36 pm

Don't post a damned thing on here other than "it has (or hasn't) been resolved".
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PITingres
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:35 am

Quoting AR385 (Reply 8):
Better talk to a lawyer first, because:

1) Your lawyer will have YOUR best interest in mind. Not the company´s
2) When you go to your HR dept. You will already know your options if what HR tells you sounds like BS to you.
3) You will know you have perfectly solid ground to stand on when dealing with your complaint.
4) Your lawyer will tell you if the trouble you are having is worth pursuing further with the company, knowing what you will be risking.
5) He will be there to advise you if your grievance is not dealt by your company in a satisfying manner to you.

I can't agree. If you don't talk to HR first, it makes you look much less believable if things to get serious. I'd go to HR first, even if feel you have to soft-pedal the complaint.

and as for AR385's points, 1) only as long as you're paying the lawyer, and too many lawyers have their continued income as their first priority; and 2-5 don't really need to be settled before talking to someone within the organization.

I still think staying inside at first is best. If you have real grounds to think you won't get anywhere, complain gently and shut up quickly, but do it so that it's on the record. Then, if it turns out to be worth it to get serious with the law, you will be on record as having tried all the proper channels first. And who knows, HR and/or the higher-ups might surprise you and take care of it. They're not always stupid ... usually the fastest way to make a problem go away is NOT to suppress it, it's to fix it!
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tbar220
Topic Author
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:20 am

Ok, sorry about the vagueness about the opening post. I wanted to get a general idea first.

Details:

My girlfriend works in a restaurant kitchen and one of her male coworkers essentially harasses her at work. Tells her things like "Go back where you belong" and "Women can't handle it in the kitchen" and occasional sexually insensitive comments (not jokes). He does his best to make her feel worthless and it has been getting pretty consistent lately whenever they are working together. Her boss knows but is essentially doing nothing about it.

Any further thoughts? Can anything be done about this? Is there any legal basis for doing anything?
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Superfly
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:24 am

Quoting tbar220 (Reply 12):
"Go back where you belong" and "Women can't handle it in the kitchen"
Quoting tbar220 (Reply 12):
Any further thoughts?

I thought women belong in the kitchen?   
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photopilot
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:31 am

1) Document everything. Who said what to whom, when and date.
2) Tell the offending employee that you find his comments offensive and to stop. Have a witness to this.
3) Notify the boss in writing of your complaint. Name times, places, comments, dates, etc.
4) Give it one or two days MAX
5) If comments persist, you now have grounds for legal recourse, including damages because the company did not address your concern.

And most important. Remain silent otherwise. Don't yell back, Don't comment back. While suffering in silence other than telling the offender to cease and desist is hard to do, it does strengthen your legal position as you can't be accused of escalating the argument etc.

And while it's hard to suffer in silence, a lot of zeros on a big check for damages makes it worthwhile.

By the way, most jurisdictions use the following grounds to determine discrimination or harrassment.
Your race, sex, sexual orientation, colour, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, marital status (including common-law, divorced and separated relationships), age, disability, citizenship, family status or religion.

Good luck.
 
babybus
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:13 pm

It's a bit expensive to call up a lawyer just yet.

Why not write down on a daily basis what is happening at work; snide remarks, over allocation of work, office favouritism etc. That way you can build up a case.

In the Uk we can put in 'a grievance' ( a formal and legal complaint to the boss ) and he is duty bound to try and sort it out. If he doesn't the company are liable for damages if the case goes to court. No company or manager wants a grievance hanging over him/them. It doesn't look good and can be very expensive.

It seems bullying is the new incentive scheme. Or something like that.
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N1120A
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:46 pm

Quoting babybus (Reply 15):
It's a bit expensive to call up a lawyer just yet.

Not particularly. You don't seem to understand our legal system, so such an opinion is uninformed.
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MoltenRock
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:01 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
Not particularly. You don't seem to understand our legal system, so such an opinion is uninformed.

Quite accurate. In America ambulance chasers are "free", hence why lawsuits are so damned rampant in the USA. If someone feels aggrieved for something, anything at all, no matter how teeny tiny, they just "hire" one of these "free" lawyers to represent them. These "free" lawyers take roughly 33% (sometimes more) plus expenses, which usually equals about 40%+ of any "winnings".

My fellow Americans all have this entitlement/lottery mentality. The US legal system is clogged up with baseless and nonsensical lawsuits, many of which filed by these ambulance chasers hired by Americans thinking they've struck legal gold.

The legal system in America is a damn joke.

As to the OP's "girlfriend", she's a waitress. Have her complain to her boss. If he/she doesn't fix it, have her find a new job, tomorrow as any decent waitress can. Not to be dismissive, but really, minimum wage + tips jobs are a dime a dozen.

[Edited 2010-11-23 09:02:58]
 
AR385
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:09 pm

Quoting MoltenRock (Reply 17):
Quite accurate. In America ambulance chasers are "free", hence why lawsuits are so damned rampant in the USA. If someone feels aggrieved for something, anything at all, no matter how teeny tiny, they just "hire" one of these "free" lawyers to represent them.

The situation as described by the OP has nothing to do with ambulance chasers type lawyers.

Quoting MoltenRock (Reply 17):
As to the OP's "girlfriend", she's a waitress. Have her complain to her boss. If he/she doesn't fix it, have her find a new job, tomorrow as any decent waitress can. Not to be dismissive, but really, minimum wage + tips jobs are a dime a dozen.

No only are you being dismissive, but insulting and belittling too.
 
N1120A
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:02 pm

Quoting MoltenRock (Reply 17):

Your "understanding" of the US legal system is cursory at best. More over, it looks at least as uninformed as that as Babybus.
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flyorski
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RE: Workplace Harrassment

Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:28 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 7):
And be careful when dealing with HR. They are definitely not your friends. One of their functions is to intercept employee complaints and deal with them before they become a problem. They don't call HR "Human Resources" for nothing.

It depends on the company, however a lot of HR guys I have talked to and had classes from will tell us that they prefer hearing about it and do take it seriously. The reason for this is because it is almost NEVER just one person being harassed. If one employee is harassing your gf chances are he has also harassed others in the past and will do so in the future again. Its very likely that he is currently harassing multiple employees, and not just your gf. Before you talk to a lawyer contact HR if at all possible and file a formal complaint with them. They are obliged to deal with the situation, and no one should have to suffer harassment in ANY job regardless of what position they hold. To protect the company HR has a huge incentive to get the harassment to stop. That means talking to the employee doing the harassing and could mean disciplinary action, possibly even firing. However to do this, they often need documentation, so the sooner you contact HR the better. Good Luck.

Quoting MoltenRock (Reply 17):
As to the OP's "girlfriend", she's a waitress. Have her complain to her boss. If he/she doesn't fix it, have her find a new job, tomorrow as any decent waitress can. Not to be dismissive, but really, minimum wage + tips jobs are a dime a dozen.

Really? I think its always best to try to help the company fix these issues and give them a chance to solve the problem. This helps the company survive. If everyone who gets harassed just quits, the company never knows about the harassment until eventually they face a large lawsuit that could potentially put them out of business. Just talk to the company.
"None are more hopelessly enslaved, than those who falsly believe they are free" -Goethe

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