What is “Severe and Pervasive Conduct?” Severe and pervasive conduct is a term used to describe unlawful harassment in the workplace. Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that can take many forms. Such behaviors are unwelcoming to a victim or a 3rd party to include physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct. Harassment is not occasional compliments or mere annoyances. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which governs workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation of protected individuals states that for an act to be considered harassing and unlawful, the act must be viewed by a reasonable person to be objectively severe or pervasive. Also, the conduct must interferes with the person’s ability to work due to intimidation, hostility, or abusive.
Severe Conduct of Harassment, as the name suggests, is a “harsh” form of harassment that can occur in one episode or many. Also, it will involve a nonverbal or verbal offensive act(s) or unwelcoming physical touch.
Pervasive Conduct of Harassment, is referred to as general, widespread, or common practice. Pervasive harassment will be a conduct/act that will be considered as a norm for a group, company, or society.
There are a number of considerations that Courts usually examines to determine if the alleged conduct was “Severe and Pervasive” or not.
- What was the frequency of the hostile conduct?
- How severe was the extent of the conduct?
- Was the conduct physically offensive, harassing, or humiliating?
- Did the conduct negatively affect the victim’s work?
- Is there any inequality of power between the two parties?
Everyone in the workplace should be extensively trained about the kind of behaviors that are prohibited within the workplace. Employees should also be provided an efficient and effective procedure to report their complaints so that harassing/hostile behavior within the organization will be identified, investigated, and addressed.
Meet the Author
Alana N. Williams is the CEO and Senior Investigator of J.A. Investigative Services, LLC. J.A. Investigative Services is a licensed and insured investigation agency that specializes in conducting professional and comprehensive Workplace Harassment Investigations and Workplace Harassment Prevention Training. Services and trainings are offered nationwide. Alana is a collegiate Criminal Justice Instructor and a police officer with 10 years of experience. Also, Alana is a Licensed Private Investigator and a Certified EEO Investigator that has conducted over 70 trainings and guest appearances with audiences of 200+.
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