Do I have a hostile work environment claim? This is something many people wonder, because it can be hard to tell when a work environment has crossed the line between just being difficult and openly hostile. Here’s what you need to know about hostile work environments and when to report harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
Defining a Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment exists when harassment is based on a protected category (i.e., race, gender, national origin, age, religion, or disability) and is severe or pervasive enough that it alters your ability to do your job. The behavior must be more than just offensive, it must be objectively abusive.
Additionally, the harasser can be anyone in the workplace. It may be a coworker, supervisor, or even a customer or client. Furthermore, the victim does not have to be the person harassed. It can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
The courts will look at factors such as:
- What type of conduct was it?
- How often did discriminatory conduct occur?
- Was the conduct directed at you because of your protected status?
- Would a reasonable person find the work environment hostile based on this conduct?
Signs of a Hostile Work Environment
If you still aren’t sure if your situation qualifies as a hostile work environment, look at the following signs. A few of the examples that could create a hostile work environment include:
- Sexual harassment
- Physical assaults or unwanted touching
- Repeated comments or jokes about a protected characteristic (gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or race)
- Threatening or intimidating behavior
- Displaying offensive symbols or pictures
These are just a few examples; this is not a complete list. If you believe that you are being harassed at work, its imperative to speak to an attorney and discuss your situation. This will help you answer your question of “do I have a hostile work environment claim” as well.
Do I Have a Hostile Work Environment Claim?
If you are facing harassment at work, you may be feeling scared and alone, but you aren’t alone. We are here to help. An experienced employment attorney can help you understand your rights and your options for a claim. To learn more about hostile work environment claims, please contact Cook, Craig, and Francuzenko today.