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What Qualifies as Verbal Harassment?

What Qualifies as Verbal Harassment?

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What Qualifies as Verbal Harassment?

Threatening you or your property, yelling, and using insulting or offensive language can all qualify as verbal harassment. In general, harassment refers to repeated behavior rather than a passing remark. Victims of verbal harassment can suffer from significant emotional distress and even develop mental health problems. Verbal harassment at work can stifle career progression, lead to income losses, and negatively impact a victim’s home life. 

While there are no specific laws protecting individuals from verbal harassment, you could have legal recourse if someone makes a threat against your person, your family, or your property. You could also have a case if the verbal harassment is coupled with discrimination, sexual harassment, and other illegal behavior.  

If you are suffering from verbal harassment, Morgan & Morgan could help. Contact us today to learn more and determine whether you qualify for compensation. 

What Is Verbal Harassment?

Language qualifying as verbal harassment generally causes emotional or psychological harm to the individual targeted. Verbal harassment can include:

  • Name-calling
  • Humiliation
  • Offensive jokes
  • Yelling and screaming 
  • Threats
  • Slurs

Verbal harassment is not always illegal. However, if it involves discrimination, you could have a legal case and potentially sue. You could also have a case if someone is making threats against you and your property.

Types of Verbal Harassment

Individuals can experience verbal harassment in various situations, including at work and home. All examples of verbal harassment mentioned below constitute civil harassment and include threats of violence or abuse, sexual harassment, and other types of verbal abuse. Generally, to qualify as civil harassment, threats must either include actual violence or involve a credible threat of violence. Credible threats of violence include threatening behavior or words that would make a reasonable individual afraid for their safety or the safety of their family. 

Workplace Harassment

Unfortunately, incidents of workplace bullying and verbal harassment are increasing. According to Forbes, almost four out of ten employees experience harassment at work. Workplace harassment contributes to low morale and low productivity and can lead to a toxic work environment. However, if you are experiencing verbal harassment at work, the law can be on your side. Various federal laws deal with verbal harassment at work, including but not limited to:

If the verbal harassment you are experiencing is based on your membership of a protected class, you could have legal recourse and fight back. Protected classes are, among others:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Religion

You do not have to put up with workplace harassment. If you were repeatedly harassed or threatened with violence, you should speak to our experienced attorneys to determine whether you could sue your employer and receive compensation. 

Elder Abuse

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), approximately five million older Americans experience abuse each year. Verbal harassment occurs when a senior is subjected to insults, humiliation, yelling, and other forms of emotional abuse. Verbal harassment can have devastating health impacts on an older person, including:

  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Reduced life quality
  • Trouble sleeping

Emotional abuse such as verbal harassment can be tough to detect. However, signs that your loved one suffers from verbal harassment can include sudden changes in character, social withdrawal, and fear of caregivers. If you suspect that your loved one is verbally harassed in their nursing home or assisted living facility, an attorney from our firm can advise you about your next best steps.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can include verbal threats by: 

  • The spouse
  • A domestic partner
  • A separated spouse or partner
  • A current or past dating partner 
  • Close relatives (such as siblings, parents, children, and others)

Often, domestic abuse entails physical violence. However, verbal threats, harassment, or threatening to destroy property can also constitute domestic abuse. 

What Qualifies as Verbal Harassment at Work?

Verbal harassment in the workplace can include:

  • Yelling
  • Humiliation
  • Offensive, insulting, or vulgar language
  • Harassing remarks due to the victim’s race, nationality, or membership of another protected class 

An employer can be held responsible in some circumstances. For example, if an employee cannot perform their job due to persistent harassment, the employer may be liable if they did nothing to stop the abusive employee. 

The Consequences of Verbal Harassment at Work

Verbal harassment at work can negatively influence your entire life, including your career and family relationships. Continued verbal harassment and a toxic work environment can cause a variety of mental health issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fearfulness
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of unworthiness and shame
  • Substance abuse

Although legal options could be limited if you experience verbal harassment at work, you do not have to suffer in silence. Employers may be liable for failing to provide a reasonably healthy and safe workplace, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). If you are suffering from verbal abuse at work, consider contacting our attorneys, who can assess your situation and clarify your legal options. 

You Could Sue for Verbal Harassment

Although words can cause a great deal of distress and trauma in some cases, suing for verbal harassment alone can be challenging. However, verbal harassment can be enough to initiate legal action in some circumstances. 

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule about when verbal harassment qualifies for a lawsuit. However, if you can prove the following, you could potentially sue: 

  • The perpetrator intentionally verbally harassed you by using insulting or abusive language
  • The perpetrator should have known that their verbal attack would cause you severe distress 
  • You suffered emotional or psychological distress as a result of the verbal harassment

However, to have a legal case against the perpetrator, you would generally have to prove that they intended to cause actual harm. Racial and sexual slurs can also be grounds for filing a lawsuit, particularly if you are subjected to offensive language at work. You would then have to prove that the harassment was based on your protected status, such as your age, race, religion, and others.

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • What Should I Do if Someone Verbally Harasses Me?

    If you are verbally threatened or harassed, emotions are likely running high. However, at the moment, try to remain calm and consider removing yourself from the situation if you can. If the person threatened you with violence, seek help immediately and call the police.

    If you are experiencing verbal harassment at work, speak to your supervisor, employer, or human resource department. If the harasser threatens you and your property, call law enforcement and consider talking to an attorney to determine your legal options.  

  • Is Verbal Harassment a Crime?

    Verbal harassment generally does not qualify as a crime. However, verbal threats can be a criminal offense if the person threatens to:

    • Physically harm you or your family
    • Damage your property

    If someone verbally threatens you, consider informing law enforcement. Talking to the police and filing a report can be important, particularly if the person keeps threatening you or becomes physically aggressive, as it can help build your case against them. 

  • Which Types of Damages Could I Receive for Verbal Harassment at Work?

    If you experienced severe verbal harassment at work, you could pursue various damages, including:

    Pay and Benefits

    If you incurred financial losses due to harassment at work, such as missing out on a pay rise or promotion, you could be entitled to the following damages and others:

    • Back pay
    • Vacation and sick pay
    • Retirement benefits
    • Pay rises due to you
    • Tips or commission
    • Future loss of income (in case of job loss)

    You could also receive reimbursement for expenses relating to retraining or job search as a result of the verbal harassment.  

    Medical and Counseling Expenses  

    If your mental and physical health was impacted by verbal harassment, you could be entitled to medical bills, including the costs of psychological counseling, medications, doctor’s appointments, and others. 

    Pain and Anguish

    In severe cases, verbal harassment can cause mental issues and even physical health problems. If this has happened to you, you could be entitled to awards for your emotional and physical suffering in connection with the harassment. 

    Punitive Awards

    If an employer acted maliciously or did nothing to remedy a toxic work environment, they could be ordered by a court to pay punitive damages to the victim. 

    An attorney from Morgan & Morgan can assess your specific claim and inform you of the potential worth of your case. 

  • Does Sexual Harassment at Work Count as Verbal Harassment?

    Sexual harassment at work describes any unwelcome sexual behavior, whether verbal or physical. Verbal sexual harassment can be intimidating and highly upsetting for the affected employee. Examples of sexual verbal harassment include:

    • Repeated sexual jokes 
    • Offensive sexual innuendoes
    • Unwanted and excessive flirting
    • Demanding sexual favors

    It is important to note that it is unlawful for employers to fire an employee in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.

  • How Can Morgan & Morgan Help Me?

    Having an experienced and determined lawyer by your side can be essential when considering filing a lawsuit for verbal harassment. Litigating for verbal harassment can be challenging. Our attorneys can determine which laws apply to your case and whether you could sue for damages. We can help to prove your case and show how severely the verbal harassment affected you, financially and emotionally.

    Morgan & Morgan’s dedicated attorneys can handle your case from beginning to end, leaving you free to concentrate on your well-being and begin the healing process during this difficult time. We can also:

    • Negotiate a fair settlement
    • Gather and organize evidence
    • Represent you strongly in court 

    Our lawyers have recovered more than $13 billion in damages for clients to date. We want you to win and receive what you deserve to put your life back together. Our lawyers can fight tirelessly for victims of verbal harassment. 

  • When Should I File a Verbal Harassment Lawsuit?

    Victims of verbal harassment should act fast. If you experienced verbal harassment at work, you normally have first to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days. The agency will then determine whether you can file a lawsuit and, if so, issue a “Notice of Right to Sue.” 

    For those who suffered verbal harassment outside of work, the deadlines for filing a suit will depend on the state they live in. In most cases, missing the deadline means you lose the opportunity to pursue compensation. It can be vital to seek legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you follow all the applicable regulations and time limits. 

  • What Should I Do if I Am Harassed at Work?

    Depending on your place of work, you should inform your supervisor, HR department, or employer about the verbal harassment. Report exactly what happened, when, and who harassed you. If you report harassment and your supervisor or employer does nothing, and the harassment does not stop, you should speak to our lawyers. We could help you get justice and receive compensation for your losses. 

  • Morgan & Morgan Fights for Your Rights 

    Nobody should have to put up with verbal harassment and threats, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. Repeated verbal harassment can take a devastating toll on your health, mental well-being, and finances. Although there is no specific law dealing with verbal harassment alone, you could have grounds for a legal case if you are getting harassed at work or threatened with harm. 

    Morgan & Morgan knows firsthand the devastating effects of verbal harassment. Our attorneys can take care of all the details necessary for pursuing compensation if you suffered damages due to verbal abuse and harassment. We can stand up against the bullies that are making your life miserable. 

    If you would like to know what qualifies as a verbal harassment lawsuit, get in touch. You pay nothing unless we win and you receive damages. Take action today and contact us for a free case review.

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