Examples of a Hostile Work Environment
Under state and federal employment laws, an employee can bring a lawsuit against an employer for a hostile work environment. You might be the victim of a hostile work environment if a coworker, boss, supervisor or customer crossed a line into bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination or crimes against you such as physical assault that make you feel unsafe at work. A hostile work environment is common grounds for employment lawsuits in California. Talk to a Los Angeles employment lawyer for more information.
Is a Hostile Work Environment Harassment?
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment can refer to any unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s protected class. This can include race, sex, gender, age, national origin, religion, disability and genetic information. Although minor isolated incidents, annoyances and simple teasing may not meet the legal definition of harassment, more serious infractions can break the law. Harassment becomes unlawful when the offensive conduct or behavior creates an environment that a reasonable worker would find hostile, intimidating or abusive.
Bullying, jokes, name-calling, ridiculing, slurs, threats, intimidation, mockery, insults and offensive language could all meet the definition of harassment if they create a hostile work environment. If you are working in an environment where you do not feel safe, cannot complete the required tasks of your job or constantly have to endure offensive conduct, you could be the victim of harassment. Your employer may be liable for your related damages if you have suffered harassment at work in the form of a hostile work environment.
Are There Internal Solutions?
Most employment lawyers in California offer free, nonobligatory legal consultations for your benefit. As an employee potentially facing harassment at work, it could be worthwhile to schedule a free consultation to discuss your specific case with a lawyer with experience in this area of law. You can receive tailored answers to your questions at no cost, risks or obligation to hire the firm. That being said, you may be able to deal with a hostile work environment on your own or with help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) first.
Before you speak to anyone about the discrimination, harassment or bullying you suffered at work, document the incident in detail. Keep a notebook or journal documenting the event. Write down the time and date of the incident, the name of the offender, the names of other people who may have seen or heard the offense, a description of what happened, and how you reacted to it. If you asked the perpetrator to stop or apologize, for example, write this down.
Then, go to Human Resources to request an internal solution to the issue. HR may be able to offer a remedy that solves the problem, such as firing the person harassing you or reinstating benefits an employer unlawfully took away from you. If HR refuses to do anything about your complaint, go to the EEOC for assistance. File a charge regarding the hostile work environment. The EEOC can offer remedies such as mediation to resolve the issue. If intervention from the EEOC fails, you will then have the right to take your harassment claim to court in California.
Should I Get Legal Help for a Hostile Work Environment?
Give your case to an attorney if a hostile work environment or harassment at work has caused serious damages such as the loss of your job, financial harm, physical injuries, psychological trauma or sexual assault. A lawyer could help you bring a strong civil claim against your employer for allowing the harassment or discrimination to take place or continue, or for retaliating against you for coming forward. A lawyer can also help you navigate processes such as an EEOC complaint or mediation with your employer. When in doubt, contact a lawyer in California for assistance with your hostile work environment case.