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  • Harassment: Beware the Company Holiday Parties

    Tis the time of the year for holiday parties, employee get togethers, lunch room gatherings, and “a good time was had by all,” well maybe not. These times are also prime opportunities for “Harassment,” the verbal, nonverbal, or unwanted physical contact, based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or race.

    Harassment is more than a little good natured teasing. I have to admit that I can be a bit of a christmaspartyharassmentteaser. My wife, who doesn’t tolerate teasing too well, will let me know in no uncertain terms, when I’ve gotten too close to the line, and it becomes offensive, the room suddenly starts to get cold. Of course, it’s not that simple and it can be very complicated. We don’t all have the luxury of having that loving reminder; it will just show up as a law suit, a pink slip, or a broken relationship.

    The EEOC (United States Equal Employment Opportunity commission) Publishes a statement regarding Harassment. The following is an excerpt from that statement

    Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates 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).

    Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

    Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

    Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

    The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

    The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

    Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

    For the complete statement visit http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm

    Harassment affects everybody; the offender and the immediate victim, as well as those unintended victims. Those victims can include your co-workers, management, and most of all your family, and pocketbook. Management does have a responsibility under the guidelines of the EEOC to provide training and education regarding harassment of any kind. On line training is also a very effective and inexpensive tool. Now go and enjoy your Holiday eggnog, and from all of us here at Safetyinstruction.com have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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