Harassment at the Workplace? 3 Tips to Come Out of It
Most Americans decide to leave their jobs due to one or the other form of harassment meted out in the workplace. Toxic work environments affect people psychologically and their performance, making it an all-round bad experience for the employees.
A study showed that nearly 60 percent of employees have quit or are on the verge of quitting their jobs because of the workplace harassment they face. There are many types of harassment that one may experience – racial, sexual, religious, ethnic, age-based, disability-based, bullying, or employers holding personal grudges against the applicants.
This, however, gets complicated when one quits and applies for UI Benefits. The state unemployment benefits department has two major challenges.
The two biggest challenges that an applicant will face are:
- The onus of proving that the harassment has taken place will be on the applicant
- The applicant’s word will not be taken as final. If the employer contests the claim of the applicant, the applicant might end up losing the UI benefits if he/she does not have legitimate proofs
What Constitutes Harassment?
It is important for people to understand that you may not get along with your employer and this does not constitute harassment. Employers are not obligated to make you feel at home or make you get along with themselves or others.
If you quit your job because you could not get along with your manager, your resignation will be considered as ‘voluntary’, and you will not qualify for UI benefits.
For any case to be considered as harassment, the applicant must be treated unfairly based on factors that are beyond the employee’s performance or behavior.
Some of the instances that are considered as harassment include:
- Your work environment made hostile due to your gender, sexual orientation, race, religious affiliation, age, disability or due to personal enmity
- Your work environment made hostile because you brought to light a criminal activity, health hazard, or discrimination faced by someone else either to your manager or to the police
- You were ‘constructively discharged’ by your employer. Constructive discharge is when an employee is forced to quit due to the discrimination meted out against him/her
How to Prove Your Claim?
There are some important steps you need to follow to make sure that you have sufficient evidence for your claims.
Show that you tried to solve the issue: First and foremost, any state UI department will see if you have made any efforts in trying to solve the issue within the organization. You need to furnish proof that you have amply communicated with your manager about your issue. You need to show that you did not leave your job at the first sight of the problem, but instead, you tried to solve it but found no success.
File formal complaints: File formal complaints while you are still employed if you cannot solve the issue by yourself. Either file a complaint with a higher authority in your organization or you can also file a complaint with the ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’. You can also file a complaint with your state or local government authorities like the police, or the Human Rights Division of your state.
Documentation of your complaints: Make sure that all your communication about your issue is well documented. Communicating through emails is one of the smarter things to do while connecting with your manager. If you submitted a handwritten complaint, make sure to keep a photocopy of your submission. Keep the copies of complaints that you filed with the local government agencies or with the EEOC.
This will form a major piece of evidence to showcase that you went through harassment and you tried to find a solution by informing the respective authorities. Such documented evidence will be the difference between your word and your employer’s word.
If you are left with no other option but to quit your job, you have arrived in the right place. Check out FileUnemployment.org to know more about filing for UI benefits in your state.
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