If a coworker compliments your hairstyle and asks you on a date, this is not sexual harassment if it’s a singular incident.
Labor laws in North Dakota are meant to protect the rights of both employees and employers, but when problems appear, it might be wise to seek legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer. Many people believe you only need a lawyer when you want to sue someone, but a good professional can help you avoid troubles and costly trials.
When should a North Dakota employee hire a lawyer?
If you believe you are mistreated in the workplace or your employer is not giving you the payment you deserve, you should consider speaking with an employment lawyer in Fargo to see if you have a case.
Workplace discrimination is a big issue these days. North Dakota law prohibits any form of discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, national origin, religion, etc.
If you’re thinking about filing a complaint, let your lawyer review your case first. For instance, there’s a lot of talk about sexual harassment, but you need to make sure your problems fall in this category.
Just a quick example – if you are harassed by a coworker who touches you in an appropriate manner, asks intimate questions or sends sexually-explicit images, such as nude pics, this may be a case of hostile work environment. However, the offensive conduct must be of a pervasive nature. If a coworker compliments your hairstyle and asks you on a date, this is not sexual harassment if it’s a singular incident. If you decline their invitation but they keep asking you out, that may be interpreted as sexual harassment.
The same goes for any other type of discrimination. An inappropriate comment on your skin color may be in bad taste, but not enough to be considered discrimination. However, if your manager repeatedly overlooks you for a well-deserved promotion, that may be a case of race discrimination.
In all matters concerning discrimination, you need to file an internal compliant first. If your employer acts in bad faith and doesn’t take any action, you have the right to file a complaint with the North Dakota Department of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
As a business lawyer, when should I get an employment lawyer?
If an employee files a complaint for discrimination, unfair wages or wrongful termination, you will obviously need legal representation when you go before the EEOC.
However, you should consider talking to a seasoned lawyer to prevent such issues. One way of doing this is to prepare a comprehensive employee handbook, clearly stating company policies on discrimination in the workplace. For instance, the employee handbook should define sexual harassment in clear terms, so everyone knows what is not allowed in your company. At the same time, the handbook should detail the procedure for internal complaints and spell out the consequences for those found guilty of sexual harassment offenses.
At the same time, a skilled lawyer can help you prepare a clear policy on hiring and firing people, affirmative action compliance, medical leave, wage and overtime payments. If your employees know what to expect and your policies are in strict compliance with state and federal laws, you will be protected against complaints and lawsuits, and avoid unpleasant situations.