Can I get damages for harassment at work?

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Can I get damages for harassment at work?

I’ve been threatened with termination because I asked the 2nd manager questions and he said that he doesn’t like me to stop and ask him how to do stuff or this won’t work out. He’s stung me with towels after I told him to stop, he made fun of my height, and an makes me feel stupid all the time. I’ve said something to both the first manager and the regional manager and nothing has been done; they say it’s just him and they have told him everything that I have said, so there is tension and now I’m back on meds. I dread going to work now due to all of this. I’ve now been thrown in a job with no training by myself when usually 2 people help. Is this harassment?

Asked on May 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The key issue is *why* are you being harassed at work. If you're being harassed on the basis of some protected characteristic--for example, your race, religion, sex, disability, or age over 40--that would be illegal, and you have a legal claim and be entitled to damages. This means that the harassment must be because of the characteristic: for example, as explained more below, a 50-year old African American disabled woman can be harassed as work, so long as she is not harassed because she is 50, African American, a woman, or disabled.

On the other hand, if your manager simply doesn't like you, won't provide you the support that you need, etc., that is not generally actionable. The law does not require managers to be fair, reasonable, courteous, professional, etc.--they can "harass" employees at will, so long as that harassment is not specifically based upon some protected characteristic of the employee.


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