Springfield, Massachusetts Workplace Harassment Lawyer
A Springfield Harassment Lawyer Representing the Rights of Employees
Workplace harassment based gender, race, religion, and many other personal characteristics is against the law and often entitles victims to significant compensation. If you believe that you have suffered harassment at work, please fill out and submit our online questionnaire.
Under both Massachusetts state law and many different federal labor regulations, Springfield workers have valuable legal rights, including the right to work in conditions that are free from any form of unlawful harassment. Whether it is unwelcome sexual advances, inappropriate jokes, or disparaging comments about your race or gender, the harassment needs to stop now.
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, our experienced Springfield workplace harassment attorneys are proud to fight on behalf of the victims of illegal workplace harassment. If you were a victim, we can help you seek justice, and potentially, financial compensation for your damages. From our office in downtown Springfield, our employee rights lawyers serve workers throughout the region, including in Westfield, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Holyoke and West Springfield.
Were You a Victim of Unlawful Workplace Harassment?
Illegal workplace harassment can come in a wide variety of forms. In some cases, the misconduct is so clear and obvious that the victim knows right away that he or she was unlawfully mistreated. However, in many other cases, victims are left uncomfortable and confused, unsure if they were actually “harassed” at all. This confusion can be made even worse by co-workers or friends telling victims to simply “loosen up” or “let it go.”
If you believe that you may have been the victim of workplace harassment in Springfield, Massachusetts, our employee rights law firm recommends that you ask yourself the following two important questions:
Have you been exposed to workplace harassment that is severe and pervasive?
Was the harassment because of a legally protected classification such as race, gender, age, or disability?
If the answer to either of those questions is “yes,” then you may have been the victim of unlawful workplace harassment. At this point, a qualified Springfield employment law attorney should review the details of your case. Whether you have a viable claim will depend on if the harassment was based on your protected status and whether it was sufficiently pervasive or severe.
Employee Rights: Protected Status
Unlawful workplace harassment is distinct from merely unkind comments. To qualify for legal action, the offensive behavior in question must first be either directly or indirectly related to one of the following characteristics:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender expression
- Pregnancy status
- Marital status
The above are all legally protected statutes that could be used as the basis for a workplace harassment claim. To reiterate, general personality conflicts are not legally actionable under Massachusetts law or federal law. While there are many anti-harassment laws that protect workers, including the Massachusetts anti-discrimination statute, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, these laws only cover harassment based on certain qualifying characteristics.
Severe or Pervasive Harassment
Once you establish that you were made uncomfortable at work based on treatment that was related to a protected status, your attorney will move on to evaluate the issue of the pervasiveness and severity of the harassment. Misconduct will be deemed unlawful harassment only if it is either sufficiently severe or sufficiently pervasive – both are not required.
Indeed, a single incident of misconduct may be enough to bring a legally viable workplace harassment claim if the harassment was severe enough. Alternatively, repeated but relatively minor indiscretions may also collectively add up to a legally viable harassment claim. Ultimately, the determination of whether you were subject to severe or pervasive harassment will need to be made on a case-by-case basis and this will be a very fact-specific assessment. As such, it is imperative that you get an attorney by your side as soon as possible who can conduct a comprehensive review and investigation of your claim.
Employers Have an Affirmative Duty to Eliminate Unlawful Harassment
Not only do Springfield employers need to ensure that they are using fair hiring practices that are free from any form of discrimination, but employers also must take proactive measures to eliminate unlawful harassment in the workplace. Employees have a right to work in conditions that are free from any unlawful type of harassment. If harassment does occur, even if it is by co-workers and not owners or managers, the employer could potentially be held liable for that misconduct. Indeed, it is not enough to simply enact general policies that supposedly prohibit workplace harassment – employers must actually put a stop to it.
For example, imagine that an African-American employee who works at an office in Springfield is disparaged by a co-worker on racial grounds during a routine professional disagreement. The African-American worker relays the issue to his manager, complaining about the mistreatment, but the manager takes no action to investigate or address the complaint, and the racial disparagement is allowed to continue for an extended period of time. In this scenario, the employer has fallen far short of its duty to provide a harassment-free workplace. As such, because no corrective action was taken, the employer may be legally liable for that harassment.
Lack of Intent Is Not an Excuse
One of the most important things to know about workplace anti-harassment laws is that lack of intent cannot be used as a defense in a Massachusetts workplace harassment claim. Certainly, if you were the victim of intentional employer harassment, you deserve justice and full compensation for your damages. Still, even if the harassment was legitimately unintentional, that is not an excuse.
In all too many cases, on-the-job harassment occurs because people are “just joking around.” They claim that the victim should “lighten up.” Beyond being unprofessional, this type of behavior is legally unacceptable. Employees in Springfield and the surrounding communities should never be subject to a hostile work environment. Unlawful harassment may exist even if there was no intent to create a hostile work environment.
Contact Our Springfield Workplace Harassment Attorney for Help Today
At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, our employee rights attorneys proudly protect workers against harassment. If you have been subject to any type of unlawful workplace harassment, please get in touch with our legal team today to set up a fully confidential review of your claim. We work with clients in and around Springfield, Massachusetts and also maintain offices in Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut. You can have an experienced Springfield employment attorney review your case by filling out our online questionnaire or by calling our office today at 413-417-7035.