Sexual harassment isn’t the only issue that can create a hostile work environment. At the same time, not all work environments that are “hostile” will justify legal action. Are you entitled to financial compensation or other remedies? Here’s what you need to know.
What does it mean to work in a hostile work environment? The answer isn’t what many people think. While some work environments are indeed “hostile” – with unreasonable deadlines, bosses who are mean, and high levels of stress all day long – these types of unfortunate circumstances do not always rise to the level of legally-actionable employer misconduct.
To be considered unlawful under California law, a hostile work environment must be the product of inappropriate and unwelcome behavior that is based on a protected characteristic and is so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of employment and creates an abusive atmosphere. In other words, your boss can be mean and a bully without crossing the line into unlawful harassment. A hostile work environment resulting from unwelcome behavior based on a protected characteristic, however, can potentially justify legal action against your employer.
If you suspect you are working in an unlawful hostile work environment, contact us online or at (213) 863-4276 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Our hostile work environment lawyer handles all workplace harassment cases on a contingency basis. That means you pay us nothing unless and until we obtain a settlement or verdict for you
If you are in need of a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer, contact Custis Law, P.C. today for a free consultation.
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What You Can Do Now About A Hostile Work Environment
If you believe you may have a claim for a hostile work environment, you can take a number of steps to protect yourself and preserve your legal rights against employee harassment.
Tell the Harasser to Stop.
If you feel safe doing so, tell the harasser that you find the harassment offensive and ask for it to stop. Although many harassers know well that they are being offensive, not all do. Unwelcome harassment can sometimes be resolved simply by asking that it end.
Keep a journal of the hostile acts you’ve experienced, including dates, places, times, names of the persons involved and names of witnesses. Keep this journal at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
Report It in Writing.
Many employers have hostile work environment policies in their employee handbook. If your employer does, follow the procedure in the handbook for reporting a hostile work environment. If your employer does not, make a written report to your supervisor or someone in human resources. This report does not need to be long or formal. An email to a supervisor will work fine.
Keep copies of emails or other documents that you have sent or received from your employer regarding your complaint. Keep copies of emails or other documents that you have received that you suspect are discriminatory or harassing. If your employer has an employee handbook, obtain a copy. Also, keep copies of positive performance reviews and letters. Keep all of these records at home or in a safe place, and not at work.
No one wants to experience a hostile environment at work. We understand that. But employees who quit before reporting a hostile work environment will have a more difficult time winning a lawsuit. If you’re experiencing a stressful workplace, talk to an experienced employment attorney about how to preserve your legal claims.
Take Care of Yourself.
Seek professional counseling or treatment if you are experiencing emotional distress, anxiety, depression or other psychological symptoms because of the hostile work environment.
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