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Harassment victims may have to work with toxic colleagues

Missouri employees and others who have been harassed while on the job may face the prospect of sharing a workplace with their abusers. Generally speaking, an employer can fulfill its obligation to a harassment victim without terminating the perpetrator. In many cases, harassment cases are resolved through arbitration, which means that a victim can't pursue a matter in court. A study found that 48% of arbitration cases were fully or partially overturned on appeal.

It also found that 41% of those who were terminated after an arbitration hearing had their punishment reduced to a suspension upon appeal. That study analyzed workplace arbitration cases from 2008 to 2018 and was published in the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal. Those who are required to work with colleagues who have harassed them may have ways to protect themselves while on the job.

For instance, it may be possible to ask for a transfer to another department in an effort to minimize contact with an abusive coworker. If a transfer is not possible, it is important to remain professional in all interactions with this person. Failing to adhere to company policies could result in termination or other negative consequences. Those who believe that they cannot work in close proximity with a certain coworker may want to consider looking for a new job.

Employees who are subject to a hostile work environment for any reason may wish to pursue legal action. It may be possible to report sexual or other forms of harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An attorney may be able to help organize evidence of sexual harassment such as negative performance reviews given after filing a charge with the EEOC. If successful, employees may be entitled to compensation for lost wages or other damages they incur.

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