Many people do not like their jobs for a variety of reasons, and they might dread going to work. However, there are some working conditions that exist in violation of employment laws. For example, employees in California and throughout the United States have the right under the law to have a workplace free from sexual harassment or other types of unlawful harassment. Despite these laws, many employees routinely work in a hostile work environment caused by harassment.
There is a specific definition of a hostile work environment set out by law, and even though your workplace might seem unbearable for other reasons, it might not meet the definition of a hostile work environment. On the other hand, many people might think they are overreacting to harassing conduct, and they might not realize they are, in fact, working in a hostile work environment.
If you have concerns about your workplace, never hesitate to discuss the matter with an experienced workplace sexual harassment attorney. Below is some additional information about harassment and how it can create a hostile work environment.
Two Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Each situation involving sexual harassment will be different, and there is not a set checklist you can refer to when trying to decide if you are a victim. First, there are two different types of sexual harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo – This type of harassment occurs between an employee and someone who has authority over their job, such as a supervisor, boss, executive, or similar position. The authority figure makes sexual advances and conditions the employee’s job on their response. They might threaten to fire the employee for a refusal, offer to promote the employee for sexual conduct, or something along those lines.
- Hostile Work Environment – This harassment can happen by anyone at work no matter what their position, including a same-level coworker or even a client or vendor. The harasser engages in conduct that is sex-based and offensive, including comments, messages, unwanted touching, or other actions. The conduct becomes pervasive or offensive enough that it forms a hostile work environment for the victim or others.
If you can relate to the description of a hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment, your first step should be to report your concerns about the conduct to your employer. If you do not feel safe doing so or your employer is the one engaging in the harassment, speak with a workplace harassment attorney right away.
Once you report the conduct to your employer, they are expected to respond appropriately to the complaint. This could involve conducting an internal or outsourced investigation, interviewing witnesses, and taking any steps to stop the harassing conduct. This could mean disciplining, transferring, or even terminating the harasser. Sometimes, this solves the matter, and you can continue working without concern of further harassment.
However, some employers do not take the necessary action to eliminate the hostile work environment. In this situation, you have the right to hold your employer accountable for violating the law and for all the harm you suffered as a result. Don’t wait to speak with an employment attorney if you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment.