Hostile Work Environment

cropped-CLA-Disability-Law_cmyk.jpgHostile workplace environments can take various forms. They can include being harassed. They can also include being offended or discriminated against. Examples of this type of work environment may be an offensive picture or drawing. It can also include a harassing email.

These can also include or other actions that make one or more employee’s uncomfortable. This is similar to being bullied in the school yard. An adult earning a living is in fear of two things. These two things are fear of the bully and fear of losing a job. You could lose a career, benefits and promotions or be wrongfully terminated.

Workplace harassment and discrimination are illegal. These are the most common forms of harassment. They create a hostile workplace environment for the employee. The harassment or discrimination can be promoted by a manager. It could even be the supervisor or the employer.  It is a violation of the California Labor Law. It also violates other state and federal laws protecting the rights of employees. You are not be discriminated against or harassed in the workplace.

Stopping Hostile Workplace Environments in California

The first thing the employee who is a victim of a hostile workplace should do is demand the offender stop his or her discriminatory and harassing behavior. What if it does not stop?  Then the harassment policies for the workplace should be followed.  Usually this means to report the behavior to a supervisor, human resources department or the employer.

The employee should begin keeping a record of the incidents.  Reporting it to a superior or the human resources department is important. The claim now can be validated by the written account. Once the harassment or discrimination creating a hostile workplace environment is reported it must halt. If it is not stopped, the employee should consult an accomplished hostile workplace environment lawyer. This way the victim can learn their legal rights. This is the best way proceed with the claim.

Collecting Evidence of a Hostile Workplace Environment

When an employee becomes the victim of harassment or discrimination in the workplace he or she is advised to collect evidence of the unwanted behavior. This type of behavior can take many forms. It can include drawings, photos, jokes. It also can include suggestive talk, suggestions that promotions. It may even be a denial of benefits.  The employee’s job may be at stake if not doing the will of the offender’s suggestions. Email is often used within a workplace and can be a form of harassment.

Any type of documents showing the harassment or discrimination should be saved.  The employee who is now a victim should keep a journal of the incidents. This must include the date, time and other pertinent information including how it made them feel. This written account should be limited to actual incidents. It should not be every day exchanges occurring without the affronting behavior.

Copies of the policies concerning harassment or discrimination should be kept. Were there any write-ups concerning the job duties, promotions, benefits or training? If so, they should be documented. This evidence can help the employee if they must file a lawsuit against the offender and employer. This is much more reliable than memory. It helps validate the alleged misbehavior.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Do: Put the complaint to the company in writing. Do so if it is sexual harassment, religious discrimination or any other violation of the employee’s rights. Having a written account will do two things. First it will be a documented record of the complaint to the company. Secondly it will relieve some of the emotional stress of not having to relive each incident.
  • Do: Make it clear when making a complaint this is unwanted behavior. It doesn’t matter if it is bullying, harassment or discrimination.
  • Do Not: Encourage the behavior even to gather evidence. Asking for this illegal behavior may be seen as it being accepted or wanted behavior by the offender or others. In effect this could diminish the claim.
  • Do Not: Record an incident for evidence. It will not be accepted in court. It is usually illegal in the state of California to tape another person without their permission. The victim could actually be in legal trouble. Don’t record someone without his or her knowledge to be safe.

Behavior that can Result in a Hostile Workplace Environment

Behavior employees may find offensive may include:

  • Slurs
  • Insults
  • Ridicule
  • Name calling or labels or nicknames
  • Intimidation
  • Interference with job duties
  • Offensive jokes
  • Offensive pictures or objects
  • Physical assaults or threats

Behavior that discriminates against the employee, is offensive or harassing is illegal. This can create a hostile work environment for the victim of these actions. The victim of these actions has the right to request it stop. If not, file a complaint with the company.  This method sometimes fails to stop the illegal behavior. But the assistance of a respected attorney can hold the offender and employer liable.

It may be difficult for the employee to lodge a complaint. This is because it is an emotional and stressful situation. Doing this to stop illegal behavior will mean another employee will not suffer the same treatment.

Employer’s Duty

The employer has a duty by state and federal law to protect the rights of employees from harassment and discrimination.  Both can create a hostile work environment for the victim. It can also be bad for other employees witnessing the illegal behavior. The employer is required to take action to stop the unwanted behavior and ensure it does not happen again.

The offender must be warned, disciplined, or moved. If not, the employee should be moved and when the situation warrants.  The employer may need to terminate the offender’s employment. Sometimes the offender may be sent to be retrained to treat employees better.

It is possible even the victim will still need to work with the individual who violated their rights. The employer has a duty to provide a safe workplace. But that doesn’t always mean the employee will not have contact with the offender after they have been disciplined.

Job Termination After Filing a Hostile Workplace Environment Complaint or Lawsuit

The employee must file a complaint due to a hostile work environment. Whether it is harassment, bullying or discrimination the employee is protected by state and federal law. These laws include being wrongfully terminated by the employer. They also include being retaliated against in any way by the employer. In this situation the employee victim should consult an experienced hostile workplace environment attorney. The lawyer can file a lawsuit against the offender and employer for workplace harassment. This discrimination or bullying sometimes includes wrongful termination. But making a claim helps to recover financial damages.

Legal Assistance in Hostile Work Environment Claims

When an employee becomes the victim of a hostile work environment it is advisable to seek the counsel of a reputable and experienced hostile workplace environment attorney. In Southern California the firm should have an accomplished and highly regarded reputation within the community and the courts. Employees do not need to be the target of this illegal behavior in the workplace; they have both state and federal laws to protect their rights to work within a safe environment.

The employer is charged with the duty to ensure hostile workplaces environments are not created. This means obviating harassment or bullying.  Discrimination of any type also violates the law. Offensive behavior is not acceptable in the workplace. Employment lawyers are committed to protecting employee’s rights. This often means bringing a lawsuit against the offender and the employer.

This holds them responsible for the unwanted and illegal actions. Many law firm’s attorneys are extremely knowledgeable in this area of the law. They are often expert negotiators and litigators. They champion the victims’ rights.  Most law firms offer a free consultation. This helps educate the employee of a hostile work environment. Now they will understand their rights.

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