Harassment is never welcome in a work environment. However, not all comments or situations are considered unlawful harassment. Harassment becomes illegal when the victim must continue to endure the conduct in order to keep his or her job and the conduct is so severe that a reasonable person would find it hostile or intimidating.
Offensive conduct may include:
Annoyances, slights, and one-time incidents typically are not considered illegal. The victim does not necessarily have to be the person being harassed. It can be anyone offended by the conduct. The harasser can be anyone present in the workplace, including a co-worker, supervisor, agent or even a non-employee.
Employers should strive to create a environment that is free of harassment, and communication is key. Employees should be aware of what constitutes harassment and the consequences that come with it. Harassment training should be mandated by all employees. In addition, there should be a process in place that outlines what victims need to do when they are experiencing a situation that constitutes harassment. Employers should create an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing concerns and take immediate action when harassment is present in the workplace.