A hostile work environment doesn’t just affect individual employees. It can easily disrupt the entire workplace. You should report signs of workplace harassment to your supervisors so they can address them immediately. It’s the best way to avoid workplace harassment going forward.
Certain conditions must be present for a workplace to be considered hostile in a legal sense. An annoying co-worker who talks incessantly about their day isn’t really creating a hostile work environment. A coworker who regularly makes sexually explicit comments or jokes is a different story.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between annoying behavior and harassment. Here is a handy list of 5 ways to recognize a hostile work environment:
1. Sexual Harassment
Do you feel a co-worker or supervisor has been getting a bit too ‘touchy’ lately? Do you repeatedly hear sexually inappropriate comments? If so, you may be a victim of a hostile work environment. Despite progress, sexual harassment in the workplace is still common. Sexual harassment refers to offensive, degrading, hostile, or intimidating conditions in the workplace. It doesn’t matter if the person causing the problem is a supervisor or a coworker.
Unwanted behavior ranges from sexually offensive jokes to actual physical molestation. If behavior like this is common in your workplace, it’s important to document it. Make sure to take note of whether the sexual harassment was verbal, physical, or both.
Discrimination of any kind is illegal. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically prohibits employment discrimination based on race, age, gender, religion, or national origin.
You will have a strong case for a hostile work environment if a discriminatory act occurs regularly, and it is not stopped after being reported. If you’re not sure if you’re a victim, an employee rights lawyer can help you determine if you suffered discriminatory behavior in the workplace.
3. Pressure To Remain Quiet
Pressure to ignore unfair work practices is a lesser known form of hostile work environment. It’s against the law to retaliate against a whistleblower who reports unsafe or unfair work environments. Whistleblower retaliation is generally present if supervisors do anything to prevent a worker from exposing a hostile work environment. Pressure to remain quiet can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be an overt threat. Your supervisor might pass you over for raises, or give you less desirable work duties.
Pressure on whistleblowers doesn’t always start with management. In some cases, coworkers are the ones who want you to keep quiet about problems in the workplace. It’s common for people to avoid rocking the boat at work at all costs. For legal purposes, your employer is liable for whistleblower retaliation no matter where it’s coming from.
4. Lose a Promotion
Harassment at work can lead to serious emotional and psychological distress. It doesn’t have to result from a single traumatic event, either. Sometimes a constant, low-level stream of slights is even more destructive to an employee’s morale. A demotivated employee may feel reluctant to give their best effort at a job that doesn’t value their performance. That can lead to a loss of productivity. This loss of confidence in your basic ability to perform your job could end up costing you a promotion.
If a supervisor declines to promote you for any reason other than your job performance, you might be able to prove discrimination. This is especially true if the same supervisor promotes other employees of another gender, age, or race.
5. The Supervisor Knew But Didn’t Say Anything
Employers are required to prevent conditions that lead to a hostile workplace. In addition, they’re required to quickly deal with problems when the do arise. If you’ve explained the situation to your employer, but are ignored or suffer retaliation, you might have a strong case for a discrimination lawsuit.
A culture of fairness and dignity creates a positive work environment. Employees must feel safe, and they should be able to report problems when they arise without fear of unfair consequences.
Contact a Labor Lawyer for More Information
In conclusion, there’s no reason to tolerate harassment in the workplace. You should take a series of steps when you have trouble with harassment or discrimination. Firstly, it’s important to inform your supervisor or employer when you recognize a problem. If that doesn’t work, you may receive help from your Human Resources department. In some cases, you might have to confront a coworker yourself if you witness a problem.
You should get advice from a qualified labor lawyer if you feel you’re not being treated fairly at work. In the Los Angeles area, Cathe L. Caraway-Howard specializes in employment law. Her firm has won several high-profile cases that ended workplace discrimination. Contact her office today for more information.
If you’ve just been terminated from your job, it’s understandable if you’re feeling at a loss. Unemployment is one of the most stressful life events you could name. If you were unjustly fired, it adds insult to injury. It’s natural to feel the need to look for outside help to get justice. If you lost your job based on wrongful termination, you have the right to file a legal claim. Read the following information to find out if a wrongful termination lawyer can help you:
What Is Wrongful Termination?
You may receive conflicting reasons for your termination. Employers sometimes use pretexts to fire employees for reasons they’d rather keep hidden. A wrongful termination lawyer can see if you’ll be able to take action against a former employer if their reasons for letting you go don’t check out.
Here are several situations that constitute wrongful termination:
• Termination contrary to a specific law or regulation
• For exposing a company practice of withholding commissions and vacation pay
• For taking time off to complete jury duty
• Taking time off to vote
• For serving in the National Guard or military
• Over whistleblowing about harmful company activities
• Retaliation for lawful activities
• Because of your race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability
Request a Letter of Termination From Your Employer
First of all, it’s smart to request a Letter of Termination within a few days of your employment dismissal. This helps to document the decision-making process that led to your termination. That’s crucial if you plan to take legal action over your job loss.
A Service Letter is another useful document. Some states require a Service Letter from employers. A Service Letter must clearly state the reason for your dismissal, specify your salary or wages, and list your job duties. This information will be especially useful when your lawyer is building a case, and for determining the amount of damages you deserve.
Send a Letter of Understanding if your former employer refuses to send you a Letter of Termination or a Service Letter. State the reasons for your termination as you understand them. Your former employer must respond to your version of the facts if they disagree.
Review Employment Contracts and Offer Letters
First, look for an employment contract. A written contract that promises you job security is probably the best proof that you were not an at-will employee. Employment contracts and offer letters may state that you can only be fired for a good reason.
Offer letters and contracts can also be used if there is written proof of assurances toward continued and safe employment. Other agreements in the contract could include:
• Duration of your employment
• Regularity of job promotions
• Assurances of continuing employment
• Agreements to provide warnings before termination
• Promises of long-term employment when you were hired
Gather Other Relevant Documentation
It’s always a good idea to collect paperwork related to your job termination. These will often serve as ironclad proof in a dispute. These can include performance reviews, commendations, reprimands, salary changes, and emails. Make sure you have the legal right to use these documents. You could find yourself in legal trouble if you decide to file a lawsuit using confidential information from your employer.
Make a record of each work-related event that led to your wrongful termination. This can include performance actions and informal comments that your employer makes to you, or about your work. Keep track of detailed information about dates, times, locations, and persons involved. It’s useful to note any witnesses who were present, too.
Contact a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
A labor law attorney can help you navigate your way through the complex process of filing a wrongful termination suit. In California, the Law Offices of Cathe L Caraway-Howard specialize in wrongful termination lawsuits. They’ll be able to determine if your case has merit, and they’ll help you recover all the lost wages and benefits you deserve.