Workplace Harassment

Have you been made fun of due to your physical appearance at work? Is a superior pressuring you to have sex? Are you often the subject of practical jokes about your religion?


Houston Employment lawyers Robert J. Wiley, and Kalandra N. Wheeler represent employees who have been victimized in the work place. The creation of a hostile work environment is prohibited by the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act which prohibits employment practices that discriminate against individuals on the basis of sex, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.


What is workplace harassment? Work place harassment is any form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harassment is unwelcomed conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy) national origin, age, disability or genetic information.  Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.


Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.  These laws also prohibit harassing contractors.


Workplace harassment can manifest in two forms. It can be “quid pro quo” harassment, which involves harassment in which an employer makes work related decisions based on submission to or rejection of unwelcome conduct, often sexual in nature. Generally, it is an individual with authority over employment decisions that perpetrates this form of harassment. An example of “quid pro quo” workplace harassment would be if a supervisor denies a promotion or even fires a subordinate for refusing to be sexually cooperative.  “Quid pro quo” harassment, however, need not be sexually based. A supervisor, for example, cannot require a subordinate to engage in religious activities as a condition of employment, promotion, or compensation. 


Workplace harassment can also consist of offensive behavior based on one or more of the protected groups, such as an employee’s sex, religion, national origin, or any of the other groups listed above.  The offensive behavior becomes illegal when it is so severe and persistent that it engenders a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment decision, such as termination or demotion. Examples of conduct that could contribute to an unlawful hostile environment could be discussing activities of a sexual nature, telling jokes regarding race, sex, disability, or other protected groups, inappropriate physical contact, indecent gestures, or crude language.


The Department of Labor has policies and procedures that encourage employees and employers to recognize, report, and remedy situations in which workplace harassment is taking place, even if the reported behavior may not be sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a violation of federal law.


Importantly, those who have been victims of harassment in the work place should take immediate action. Under federal law a victim must take action in 300 days, while under Texas state law the deadline is 180 days. We have often see clients who have come to us long after the harassment has begun and it has become simply to late to tale action. Do not let this happen to you.


Typically, our attorneys begin by meeting with a potential client face-to-face. We will discuss the merits of your claims as well as the best strategy for handling a workplace harassment. If you choose to hire us, we usually begin by contacting your employer and proposing either (1) conditions for eliminating the work harassment, or (2) severance package that will compensate you for your harms and damages.


If you are a victim of Workplace Harassment, please contact us without delay.

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