Kansas City Workplace Harassment Lawyer
Workplace harassment is a pervasive and harmful issue affecting many individuals in various employment sectors. Defined as unwelcome behavior based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability, workplace harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment that interferes with job performance. It’s vital to understand that such actions are not only unethical but also unlawful. For anyone experiencing these unwarranted behaviors, the law firm of Phillip Murphy stands ready to support you, offering comprehensive legal services to defend your rights and help you seek justice.
Workplace Harassment vs. Discrimination
Understanding the difference between workplace harassment and discrimination is the first step towards taking the right legal action. Workplace harassment is one way of establishing workplace discrimination. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that becomes a condition of continued employment or is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Workplace harassment often overlaps with a hostile work environment, but the two are not always the same. Both are a means of establishing discrimination; treating someone less favorably because of their race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or age.
Examples of workplace harassment could range from offensive jokes, slurs, name-calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule, insults, to offensive pictures or objects. It can also include “quid pro quo” behavior by the employer, in which an employee is required to endure harassment, in order to keep his, her, or their job. Any of these behaviors, when based on a person’s protected status, can constitute workplace harassment, and thus, discrimination.
Employees’ Rights Against Workplace Harassment
Federal laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), protect employees from harassment. These laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.
While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not explicitly cover workplace harassment, it is mandated to ensure the safety and health of workers. Therefore, any workplace condition that poses a threat to an employee’s physical or emotional wellbeing, including harassment, may fall under OSHA’s purview.
Understanding and Identifying a Hostile Work Environment
A “hostile work environment” is created when harassment or discrimination interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It’s important to note that not all inappropriate behavior qualifies as a “hostile work environment.” For a workplace to be legally considered “hostile,” the behavior must:
- Be discriminatory against a protected class (based on race, gender, age, disability, etc.)
- Continue over time or be severe enough that a reasonable person would find it hostile or abusive.
- Be pervasive, altering the terms or conditions of employment.
Steps to Take If You Experience Workplace Harassment
In the unfortunate event of experiencing workplace harassment, follow these steps to protect your rights:
- Document each incident in detail, including the date, time, location, people involved, and any witnesses. This will prove invaluable in any future legal actions.
- Report the harassment to a supervisor, HR, or according to your employer’s policy. Do this in writing and keep a copy for your records.
- Seek legal counsel if the harassment continues or if your employer fails to take action. Hiring a workplace harassment lawyer is your best option to protect yourself.
It’s imperative that you take action against workplace harassment. Reporting every instance of harassment you experience at your workplace is as much about stopping the current behavior as preventing future occurrences, not just for yourself, but for other employees as well.
Legal Options and Remedies Available
When faced with workplace harassment, it’s essential to know that you have legal options at your disposal. When internal reporting fails to rectify the situation, or if your employer fails to act, the law provides the following avenues:
- Filing a Complaint with the MCHR, or EEOC: The Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) is a state agency responsible for enforcing Missouri laws that protect employees against workplace discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination, including workplace harassment.
- Filing a complaint, also known as “filing a charge of discrimination,” is a crucial step that must be taken before a harassment lawsuit can be filed against an employer. The MCHR or EEOC will investigate the claim and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination has occurred. If the EEOC or MCHR finds cause, they will typically attempt to resolve the matter through a process known as conciliation. If conciliation fails, the EEOC has the authority to file a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. Finding probable cause is very rare. Most often, the MCHR or EEOC will instead close their file, and issue a “right to sue” letter, allowing the victim to file a lawsuit in court.
- Litigation: If you have received a “right to sue” letter from the MCHR or EEOC, you may choose to file a lawsuit against your employer. In the lawsuit, you will have the opportunity to present evidence of the harassment, and if successful, you may receive remedies that can rectify the harm done.
- State and Local Agencies: In addition to the EEOC, many states including Missouri and Kansas have their own anti-discrimination laws and enforcement agencies, often offering additional protections beyond those provided by federal law. It’s important to consult with an attorney to understand the options available under state law.
As for remedies, if you prevail in a harassment claim, possible outcomes could include:
- Compensatory Damages: These are intended to replace what a person lost as a result of the discrimination/harassment. This could include out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and compensation for emotional distress.
- Punitive Damages: These are intended to punish the employer for particularly egregious conduct and to deter similar conduct in the future.
- Back Pay: This includes the wages, bonuses, benefits, and other compensation that the victim would have earned from the date of the discrimination to the date of a judgment.
- Reinstatement: This is when an employer is ordered to rehire the person who was discriminated against, usually in cases where the victim was fired or forced to quit due to the harassment.
- Remedial Actions: The court may also require the employer to take specific actions to prevent future harassment, such as implementing new policies, conducting training, or monitoring the workplace.
- Front Pay: This includes the wages, bonuses, benefits, and other compensation that the victim would have earned from the date of the judgment, forward, as if the victim had continued working for the company.
Understanding these options can help victims of workplace harassment navigate the complex legal landscape, and it emphasizes the importance of seeking experienced legal counsel like Phillip Murphy Law to guide you through the process.
How a Kansas City Workplace Harassment Lawyer Can Help
An experienced workplace harassment lawyer like Phillip Murphy II will effectively advocate for your rights as he helps guide you through these steps of documenting the harassment to representing you in court.
Our law firm has a solid track record of successfully advocating for employees facing workplace harassment. With extensive experience and dedicated focus, Phillip Murphy can help navigate these complex situations and fight for the justice you deserve. Our team understands the emotional toll of workplace harassment, and we’re committed to offering compassionate, comprehensive legal support.
Contact Phillip Murphy Law
Experiencing workplace harassment can be distressing and overwhelming. Remember, you have the right to a safe and respectful work environment. If you find yourself facing harassment, take immediate steps to address it, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help. At the Law Office of Phillip Murphy, we’re ready to support you and ensure you receive the legal justice you deserve. Remember, you’re not alone – contact us today.