Experiencing harassment or abuse on the job in Connecticut?  Two key questions to ask when you evaluate whether your rights have been violated.

I frequently tell clients that harassment on the job is not illegal.  I explain that work is not meant to be fun.  

This rules applies to everyone.  

  • From scientists at Pfizer in New London and Groton . . . 
  • to public work employees for the City of Norwich . . .
  • to managers at a bank in East Berlin . . .
  • to nurses at Middlesex Hospital.  


But there are instances where on that job “harassment” will give rise to a legal claim in Connecticut.


How do you know when you might have a legal claim?  Read on.

Next, it helps if you understand that the law does not forbid harassment in the workplace per se.  Instead, it protects you from discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age and a few other “protected classes.”  There are special rules involving whistle-blowers, and medical leave that are highly fact specific.  For example, in Connecticut we have a special Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that provides additional protections over and above the Federal FMLA.  Not all states have the same rules.  Federal law protects everyone.  

So, here are two key questions you must when you evaluate a Connecticut harassment-on-the-job legal claim.

First question.  What is the nature of the harassment?  What is happening?  Are you being yelled at?  Verbally abused?  Touched even.  Is your boss favoring other employees?  Are you being singled out? Is your boss a jerk?

Second question.  What is the basis of the harassment?   Why is it happening?  Not the reason they tell you.  But what do you believe is the real reason: The unsaid reason.  Is it on the basis of your race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, age, or some other protected class?  Then you might have the basis for a lawsuit, and should consult with a Connecticut employment law attorney.  

If you think about this for a little bit you will realize that the second question of  “why is it happening” is far more important than the first question “what is happening”.   Remember, the law does not forbid harassment per se:  Only harassment because of your status as a member of a protected class.

This means that on the job harassment is probably going to be permissible unless that harassment is occurring because of your race, gender, religion, national origin, or one of the other protected classes. 

If you believe you are being harassed in Connecticut, and you are going to speak with an employment law lawyer about it, you should think about “why” you are being harassed so you can start your conversation with your lawyer with something like “I believe I am being harassed, and it is because of my” race, national origin, gender, or whatever it is.   That will move the conversation along, and your lawyer will appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn about the law before you went to the meeting. 

Why to I tell you all of this? 

Because many workers make matters worse for themselves on the job when they assume that the harassment and abuse they are experiencing is illegal.  Then they fight back when they have no legal claim.  This makes matters worse, and sometimes gets people fired unfairly yet legally.  

Where to get help.

If you or anyone you know is being harassed on the job in Connecticut or Rhode Island on the basis of your status as a member of a protected class, and you need help then feel free to contact The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C. at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.  Our main office is in Groton, Connecticut, and we also have offices in Shelton, Connecticut and East Berlin, Connecticut.  

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut