Harassment in the workplace can be upsetting and bewildering. We understand that you may feel confused and frightened about the treatment you are receiving and what to do about it. 

Both federal and Colorado state laws protect you from harassment in the workplace. You should not have to endure it, nor should you fear retaliation or reprisal from your employer if you report it. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing laws against discrimination and harassment and offers answers to many common questions about it. 

What qualifies as harassment? 

Harassment is pervasive, unwelcome conduct that contributes to a hostile or intimidating work environment. It is common for harassment to be on the basis of sex, but other bases for harassment include disability, age, race, religion or color. Annoyances and petty slights do not rise to the level of harassment, but isolated incidents can if they are extremely serious. 

A harasser who is in a position of authority over you can make your acceptance of the harassment a condition of employment. However, harassment is still unlawful even if it does not cause you to lose your job or suffer any economic damages because of it. Offensive behavior directed at someone else can still affect you. Therefore, you still have the right to report harassment even if you are not the target of it. 

Who is responsible? 

Harassment can come from anyone at your workplace, including co-workers, supervisors and independent contractors. You can usually hold your employer liable for harassment committed by anyone in the place of employment over which he or she has control. 

What should you do about it? 

Because your employer is responsible for the conduct of his or her employees and independent contractors, you should report harassment to your employer as soon as possible. If that doesn’t get results, you should take legal action.