Philadelphia Employment Law News

Unisys, Insight Sued for Alleged Discrimination, Harassment

With Google and its mantra of "do no evil," the public may have a rosy view of tech companies as being above labor disputes and employee complaints. They're getting free meals and foosball, so what can they be complaining about?

However, companies are companies and people are people. Because of that, there's bound to be problems -- the most recent being a computer technician for Unisys Corp. and Insight Enterprises who claims she was harassed by her co-workers because of her race, according to Courthouse News Service. The African American victim claims that co-workers made slave jokes, gave her shackles, and insinuated that the supervisor was her master.

These claims sound like the makings of a hostile work environment.

A hostile work environment can occur wherever workers are harassed because of their race, national origin, disability, or other protected status. If you are harassed for being different, that's a form of discrimination because others in a similar position are not being harassed.

In the Unisys harassment suit, it is unlikely the people who allegedly harassed the African American technician were also harassing other co-workers by calling them slaves and giving them shackles. That would suggest the technician was being harassed for being different.

In order for harassment to rise to the level of a hostile work environment, there must be more than a single passing statement or action. Courts will weigh the severity and frequency of the actions to determine if there was a hostile work environment.

If one action was so severe and offensive, that alone could support a finding. However, many off-hand offensive comments, if made consistently, can also rise to the level of hostility.

If you find yourself in any of these situations, you should alert your superiors at work. If that does not remedy the situation, you can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in your area or a local employment attorney to help guide you through the process of ending the harassment.

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