Employees are protected by both federal and state laws in Pennsylvania from harassment at work. The first step an employee should take if they are harassed at work is to report the harassment to the human resources department. Many employers have a policy manual or hotline on their company website for reporting harassment.
After a complaint is reported to the human resources department, the department will typically investigate the claims by interviewing the employee as well as any witnesses. The department should keep the employee informed of any findings. The human resources department may give the employer a chance to correct the situation. Information provided by employees might not be kept confidential.
It is a good idea for anyone who is experiencing harassment to keep a record of what was said, all the applicable dates and who was present when the harassment occurred. It is also a good idea to save any voicemails and emails that may be related. Meeting with the human resources department should also be carefully documented but not recorded since recording another party without permission can be a crime in some states.
If the human resources department refuses to act on any claims, an employment law attorney may be able to help. The lawyer could determine if the type of behavior occurring at the workplace is illegal. Employees experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination or a hostile working environment can sue their employer for damages.
An employment law attorney might also be able to advise potential clients about the deadlines and eligibility to file claims. Federal discrimination laws may not protect workers at companies with fewer than 15 employees. Potential claimants should keep in mind that claims could be time-barred if the employee waits too long to file the complaint.