Tulsa Workplace Harassment Attorney

Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is a common employment problem. It is a form of illegal discrimination. What may start out as a joke among colleagues can grow out of hand, making people feel uncomfortable at their place of employment.  It amounts to bullying and leads to a hostile work environment not only for the person or persons harassed but also for other employees who witness it or know of it. Workplace harassment is also against both Oklahoma state law and federal law. Under both sets of anti-harassment laws, there are both administrative and judicial remedies for the victim. If this has happened to you in the Tulsa area, you may want to consult with a Tulsa workplace harassment attorney to end the harassment.

Workplace Harassment Definitions

Both federal law and Oklahoma law provide definitions for workplace harassment. Under federal law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace harassment as unwelcome conduct in the workplace based on a person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, country of origin, older age at 40, and above, disability, or genetic information of the person involved or his or her family medical history.

None of these may underlie harassment in the workplace. To do so is in violation of 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).

The Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act is somewhat similar. It prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability. Okla. Stat. tit. 25 Sec. 1301 et seq. The Act covers all public and private employers, employment agencies, labor unions, and contractors and subcontractors.

When Does Harassment Become Unlawful?

It is important to understand when harassment in the workplace becomes illegal. Not all harassment is actionable under the law. Small insults, annoyances, and minor isolated incidents are not enough. The facts of each case are important.

Harassment becomes unlawful when either a pattern of enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or when the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to make the workplace into an environment that the average reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Think for a moment about a secretary whose boss continually makes advances toward her or an employee who is asked for sexual favors in exchange for advancement at work. Alternatively, think about a Muslim who is continually derided at work for his or her dress, religion, or skin color.

Patterns of offensive conduct often include such things as offensive jokes, derision, slurs, name-calling, physical threats, intimidation, ridicule, offensive objects or pictures, and interfering with an employee’s performance at work.

Venues and Remedies

These cases can be brought to an administrative agency such as the EEOC or the Oklahoma Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE). Administrative agencies can often provide relief for the employee. These agencies have their own rules and regulations that must be followed.

Both of these agencies have the power to investigate an employee’s claim of workplace harassment. These cases are often difficult to prove without the help of an experienced Oklahoma workplace harassment attorney.

If harassment is proven at the agency level, the agency may order that the employer:

  • Place the employee in another position;
  • Pay back-pay;
  • Stop the pattern of harassment;
  • Pay attorney’s fees, costs, and expert witness fees.

In addition, the employee may be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.

Alternatively, the agency may issue a “Notice of the Right to Sue” which allows the employee to sue the employer in an Oklahoma state court. There are strict timelines that must be adhered to by the employee seeking redress.

In state court, remedies are somewhat similar. A state court may order:

  • That the employer must stop the actions complained of;
  • That the employee receive reinstatement, be hired, or be advanced according to the nature of the case presented;
  • Back pay;
  • Other compensatory damages;
  • Punitive damages; and
  • Attorney’s fees and costs. Okla. Stat. tit. 25, §§ 1506.3, 1350

If this has happened to you, you need not go through this alone. Get the help you need to protect your job, your finances, and your future.

Free Consultation with a Tulsa Workplace Harassment Attorney

We at the Wirth Law Office are ready to help you. If you would like a free consultation with a Tulsa, Oklahoma lawyer at Wirth Law Office, call 918-879-1681 or toll-free 1-888-Wirth-Law (1-888-947-8452).

If you prefer written correspondence, you may submit a question through the form at the top right of this page.

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