It can sometimes be difficult to judge whether you’ve got a problem with harassment in the workplace, or if you just don’t get on with a colleague. While we all do not need to be best friends with the people we work with, we do need to know that our working environment is not just physically safe, but also emotionally so. If you’re not wanting to go to work due to the behaviour of a manager or colleague, or find that you are avoiding them, and your work is being affected then it is likely that it can fit into the harassment category, and should be dealt with.
It can feel a little scary to action something like this, but if you don’t you may be creating a cycle where either you are more likely to be harassed by others (it can be a little contagious) or the person will be upsetting other people too. Many people don’t tend to speak out. They tend to leave and find another job, leaving the negative workplace to crumble or affect others. If you then move to another toxic environment, then you still haven’t developed the skills to counter act it and the problem remains.
So what is the difference between working with someone who doesn’t like you, and working in an environment where you are suffering from harassment? If you are feeling uncomfortable at your workplace due to unwanted comments or people treating you differently and attributing it to your age, your gender, your sexual orientation, any disability or your race or religion, then you may have a case.
It’s a good idea to establish the legal precedents if you think you may be being sexually harassed in the workplace. There can be a fine line sometimes and both sides can be unsure where it is a little. But unwanted comments, sexual gestures, having to listen to very explicit jokes, or even unwanted staring can all be contributors. Displaying materials that you find objectionable can also count.
You also need to know what counts towards non sexual harassing in the workplace. If there are derogatory or threatening comments made that impinge on your rights to be accepted and treated equally no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation or religion then that is also something that should be recorded and dealt with.
It’s very important to log and record all circumstances, and record any proof where possible. If you need to consult a lawyer to work out if you’ve got a case, it’s a good idea to have specific incidents to show. No one should face harassment at work, and you have a right to feel safe and accepted in your work environment.
About the Author
Since 1992 Phil Butler Employment Law has been providing advice and representation to employees and employers on employment agreements, employment problems (such as personal grievances, disputes, harassment, redundancy, unfair dismissals & workplace bullying) and the laws governing them, visit our website today : www.employment-law.co.nz