KEY ISSUES IN CONNECTICUT WORKPLACE HARASSMENTIf you believe you might have a cause of action for workplace harassment, ask yourself the following questions:
DID YOU (ANY ONE OF THE BELOW):
- Did you feel belittled, insulted or singled out by the statement?
- Complain about workplace discrimination?
- Did you feel like your job, pay or promotion depended upon your reaction to the statement, either because it was implied or explicitly made clear?
IF THE ANSWER TO ANY OF THE ABOVE QUESTION WAS “YES,” THEN YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF IF THE COMMENT WAS MADE, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BECAUSE OF YOUR:
- National Origin
- Gender Identity or Expression
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status
- Physical, Mental or Learning Disability
- Genetic Information
If so, you may have been illegally harassed. Harassment for other reasons, such as a general personality conflict, are not actionable.
Employers may not harass employees based on legally protected characteristics. It is not enough for employers to merely avoid discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion and pay decisions. It’s also a form of discrimination to make the workplace uncomfortable for people in protected classes.
Connecticut has strong laws against harassment at the workplace, whether in the form of sexual advances, crude jokes or comments about your race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other trait. If you’ve been the victim of harassment, you have rights against your employer.
Connecticut Workplace Harassment Lawyer
Our Connecticut workplace harassment lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore are proud to represent the victims of on-the-job harassment in Connecticut. Whether you were the subject of insults because of your race or a supervisor demanded sex for a promotion, you have the right to have the harassment stop and to make a claim for monetary damages. If fired or denied promotion for opposing this harassment, you could be eligible for back pay and reinstatement. Contact us today by filling out our online form so we can review your harassment case.
Connecticut Workplace Harassment Information Center
- Sexual Harassment in Connecticut
- Liability of Employer in Connecticut Harassment
- Intent to Harass or Not, It’s Still Harassment
Sexual Harassment in Connecticut
Sexual harassment is the most common type of illegal harassment to occur in the workplace. Men harassing women is the most common scenario, however, Connecticut law bans any kind of discrimination based on sex, including women harassing men, men harassing men and women harassing women.
Sexual harassment can take place in a wide range of situations. It can range, under Connecticut General Statute 46a-60(8), from inappropriate comments to unwanted advances to demands for sexual favors in exchange for promotion or hire, or threats that an employee will be terminated or demoted if she or he does not perform a sexual act. Threats or demands can be explicit or implicit.
For example, Enid is an assistant manager at a retail store in Glastonbury. She learns of a possible promotion and calls the regional manager, Dominic. Dominic says he would be happy to discuss Enid’s potential for promotion over cocktails. Enid meets Dominic at a restaurant. Dominic grabs her leg under the table and says “I feel like we have a special relationship. Why don’t we go back to my place and we can talk about the promotion in the morning?” Enid has a strong case for sexual harassment.
Liability of Employer in Connecticut Harassment
Individuals in a company may make disparaging comments, and those comments may not have the approval of the company owner. The company may even have policies in place prohibiting such action. However, if employers do not act reasonably to prevent such harassment, they may be liable to the employee for damages that are caused.
For example, Brad works as an actuary in a consulting firm in Hartford. He is African American. He has a tense relationship with James, a co-worker, who is white. During an argument, Brad clearly hears James refer to him as “Boy.” Brad goes to Elaine, his supervisor, and reports the racist insult. Elaine says that perhaps Brad misheard James. James walks back to his office and on the door, finds an electrical cord tied as a noose dangling from the door handle and a note with a racial slur posted on the door. James reports the matter to Elaine, but she says there’s really no proof that anyone specific did anything, and that James should ignore the attack and “hold his head high.”
By failing to take any action, Elaine has allowed a hostile work environment for Brad on the basis of race, and Brad may have a cause of action against his employer.
Intent to Harass or Not, It’s Still Harassment
Illegal workplace harassment clearly includes disparaging remarks based on the traits of that person. However, it also includes more subtle remarks, and remarks that, in the heads of the person saying them, are jokes.
For instance, Chad works as an accountant in a commercial real estate development firm in Torrington. He is openly gay. His coworker, Susan, believes herself to be quite the comedienne, and repeatedly makes jokes about Chad’s sexual orientation. She sends a mass email referring to Chad as “queen” of the accounting department. During a holiday party, she gives him a “gift” that is a phallic object, saying she knew he “would enjoy it.”
Susan may claim to bear no animosity toward the LGBT community and may have gay friends, and say she is just joking. However, lack of bad intention is not enough to make up for a hostile work environment. Susan’s behavior constitutes harassment.
Connecticut workers have an employment right to a workplace where they are not made to feel uncomfortable because of their gender, race, national origin, age, sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy or disability. If an employee’s workplace fails to provide that, the workplace may be liable, regardless of whether the intention was to create a hostile workplace.
Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore | Hartford Attorney for On-the-Job Harassment
If you’ve been the victim of harassment at your job, you deserve to be compensated, protected and more. The Hartford workplace harassment lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore will fight for you. Contact us today by filling out our online form.