What constitutes harassment in a Michigan workplace may include any conditions or conduct that you might find offensive or intimidating. When an African-American employee found a looped rope hanging from the ceiling at a Chrysler Ram pickup assembly plant in Sterling Heights, she claimed she almost fainted. She interpreted the rope as an intimidating message being sent to the African-American employees working at the plant. She then lost her job after taking a picture of the rope and posting a video on social media. The Detroit Free Press reports that the employee returned to work, but not without first enduring a struggle and facing criticism from coworkers.

Federal law protects employees’ rights to protest adverse workplace conditions and avoid retaliation. Under certain circumstances, however, an employer may discipline or terminate a worker for displaying pictures of company property on social media. It was suggested that the rope may have been set up intentionally to help move tools, and if so, it might be arguable that the employee overreacted by posting a picture of the plant’s interior. After what was described as an exhaustive investigation, however, it was unclear who left the rope hanging from the ceiling.

An employee’s experience of workplace harassment may be different for each individual no matter how unintentional the contributing circumstances might be. The employee at the plant stated she felt sad and ready to faint when she saw the rope. This demonstrates she was negatively affected, but another individual may not have felt the same way. Crude and tasteless jokes may not always be considered a serious enough matter to file a lawsuit against a supervisor or coworker. When they cause emotional harm or distress, however, an employee may consider exercising his or her civil rights.

This information is provided for informational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.