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Second Hand  Workplace Harassment

Second Hand Workplace Harassment

A workplace can be hostile when the harassed employee does not directly witness the harassing misconduct. The fact that the employee learns second-hand of harassing misconduct (e.g. racially derogatory comments; lewd jokes) can create a hostile work environment. This is important for a few reasons: (a) the evidence used to prove a hostile workplace should not be limited to harassment personally witnessed by the employee; (b) employees should come forward and report workplace harassment even when it was not personally witnessed but learned second-hand; (c) employers cannot dismiss complaints of hostile work environment because the victim was not directly harassed; and (d) employees are protected from workplace harassment whether the harassment is directed personally at them or via second hand.

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