What Is Supervisor Harassment?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment in the workplace is any type of unwelcome conduct or discriminatory behavior that is based on an employee’s race, gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, or nation of origin. This can create a hostile work environment, particularly if the person engaging in the harassing behavior is your direct supervisor or is in a position of power.

Despite the authority your supervisor may have over you, it does not give that person the right to treat you unfairly, discriminate against you, or harass you. If you are experiencing harassment by your supervisor, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced employment lawyer.

One common form of supervisor harassment is quid pro quo, which is a Latin term that means “this for that.” If a supervisor is engaging in quid pro quo harassment, it usually means they want something from the employee that is not within the scope of the individual’s work responsibilities. Often, the harassment is of a sexual nature. The following are common examples of quid pro quo harassment in the workplace:

  • A supervisor informs an employee that they will jeopardize the chances of getting a promotion or a raise if they refuse to engage in a sexual act.
  • An employee is fired after repeatedly denying ongoing sexual advances from their supervisor.
  • A supervisor suggests to an employee that they will be given better work assignments and work less hours if the employee agrees to attend the supervisor’s house of worship on a regular basis.

In addition to quid pro quo, the following are additional examples of workplace harassment by a supervisor:

  • Verbal harassment: This type of behavior includes demeaning remarks, insults, racial slurs, offensive gestures, unreasonable criticism, and intentionally hurtful comments. Verbal harassment can be difficult to prove, particularly if there were no other employees present at the time the comments were made.
  • Psychological harassment: While similar to verbal harassment, psychological harassment is meant to break down one’s confidence and self-esteem. Examples include gaslighting, taking credit for another person’s achievement, making unrealistic demands, and withholding information necessary for an employee to do their job.
  • Cyberbullying: Examples of digital harassment, or cyberbullying, include posting threats on social media, making false statements about another employee online, or creating a webpage with the sole purpose of mocking or belittling another person.
  • Physical harassment: There are a range of behaviors that may be considered physical harassment, from touching an employee in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable to physical assaults and threats of violence.
  • Sexual harassment: There are a range of behaviors that are considered sexual harassment, including inappropriate touching, sending sexually explicit messages or images, telling sexual jokes, or requiring sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or a salary increase.

How Do I Report Harassment?

Many companies have policies in place for reporting harassment in the workplace, including situations where an employee has been harassed by their supervisor. If your company does not have a formal reporting process, consider taking the following steps:

  • Discuss the issue privately with your supervisor and explain why their actions have made you uncomfortable.
  • Bring the issue to the attention of a Human Resources (HR) manager if you are unable to resolve the issue.
  • If you are unsatisfied with the way your supervisor and the HR manager have handled the issue, contact the EEOC. They will investigate the incident and recommend the best course of action.

South Jersey Employment Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represents Employees Experiencing Supervisor Harassment

If you are being harassed by a supervisor at your workplace, do not hesitate to contact our South Jersey employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online. Located in Atlantic City and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.