What can you do if you witness harassment in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | employment law |

Every North Carolina employee has the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. While you may not experience harassment yourself, it is in your interests to know what to do if you witness it taking place at your work. You may want to speak up on behalf of your friends and co-workers, but you may not be certain of the most appropriate and effective course of action by which to do this. 

Harassment of any kind and for any reason is completely unacceptable. There are federal and state laws that prohibit this type of treatment, and you can take steps to hold liable parties accountable for their illegal actions in the workplace. After witnessing harassment, you can move forward with a course of action that will allow you to seek justice and put an end to this type of mistreatment. 

Witnessing illegal action at work 

As a witness to harassment in the workplace, you may play a critical role in the outcome of the situation. In addition to the support you want to provide to the victim, you may also be an important part of a legal case against the employer or perpetrator. The following are specific things you can do as a witness: 

  • If you witness harassment or bullying taking place, you may need to initiate an immediate intervention to prevent physical harm. 
  • It is helpful to document anything that you see that proves harassment or indicates it might be taking place. 
  • You can report the harassment to the appropriate parties regardless of whether the victim has reported it himself or herself. 
  • Be an ally for those who experienced mistreatment at work, and believe those who express their concerns to you.  

Victims of harassment often feel confused and overwhelmed, and many never come forward due to fears that no one will believe them. As a witness, you can not only stand up for what is right, you can provide critical emotional support for those harmed by harassing behaviors. 

Standing up for what is right 

As a witness to harassment at work, you can stand up for what is right by speaking out about what you’ve seen and heard. Your voice is important, and no detail is too small. If you are unsure of how you can help or what you can do to make harassment stop, you may want to first seek an explanation of anti-harassment laws and workers’ rights.