Can you sue a co-worker for harassment?

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2011

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Can you sue a co-worker for harassment?

My husband is a sub-contractor. He drives another co-worker around to different jobs and this co-worker happens to be the son of the franchise owner. My husband gets harassed everyday by the son, stuff thrown at him, vulgar language, and threats. Can we sue him for harassment?

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Workplace harassment has to do with creating a work environment that is so hostile that it prevents an employee from performing their job duties in a reasonable manner. In such a case, a superior or co-worker, either by behavior or actions, creates an environment that is counterproductive to an employee's performing their work duties.

However, typically these behaviors must be "discriminatory" and not just a result of unprofessional or even rude conduct.  In a workplace setting, discrimination is action taken against an employee because they are a member of a "protected class" (i.e. their treatment must not be based on a person's race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, etc).

Unfortunately, based on the facts that you have presented, while this co-worker's behavior is unprofessional to say the least, it does not rise to the level of an actionable claim. Unless there is a stated company policy covering your husband's situation, or there is a union/employment agreement to the contrary, or (as stated above) if the situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination.

Bottom line, try to clear the air at work in as professional manner as possible. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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