Can harassment come from discrimination?
In the state of New York, the law forbids discriminating against anyone based on a protected factor like their age, gender, race, religion or country of origin. In some cases, discrimination takes the form of blatantly illegal acts like firing someone or refusing to hire them because of their race. However, some forms of discrimination are more insidious.
When employees are harassed and discriminated against at work
While harassment is often seen as a separate charge, harassment can be tied to discrimination. According to employment law, an employer may be engaging in discrimination if they harass or insult an employee over a protected factor. This includes outright forms of harassment like using racial slurs, but it also includes more subtle forms of harassment like passive-aggressive remarks and microaggressions.
An employer can also use discrimination and harassment to create a hostile work environment. They might not say anything to the employee directly, but they could make insulting remarks about the employee while talking to another person. They might also make vague comments that aren’t specifically targeting the employee but still insulting to a member of their group.
Sexual harassment can also result from discrimination. For example, an employer who discriminates against women may think it’s acceptable to touch them inappropriately or make obscene remarks. They may try to pursue a romantic relationship despite being rejected. If the situation escalates, the employer might fire the employee for rejecting their advances.
Any of these behaviors could lead to a workplace harassment lawsuit. If you think you have a potential case, it’s important to start talking to an attorney as soon as possible so that you can organize the evidence.
How can you prepare for a sexual harassment lawsuit?
Your attorney may advise you to gather as much physical evidence as possible. This might include text messages, emails, letters and more. It’s important to talk to your attorney before making any major decisions, including leaving the job or announcing that you’re filing a lawsuit. Any misstep could irreparably damage the case. For this reason, it’s important to work with an attorney from the beginning.