Harassment that occurs in the workplace can lead to an environment where workers feel unwelcome and unable to perform their jobs in a safe manner. In a hostile work environment, employees may be the victims of unwanted sexual attention and harassment, racial slurs, and other inappropriate conduct. You should not have to deal with a hostile work environment, and in some situations, there might be legal action that you can take against your employer.
An experienced California employment attorney could assist you with filing a workplace complaint and taking other legal action against your employer when it is appropriate to do so.
When is a Person’s Work Environment Considered ‘Hostile’?
Merely having a demanding boss who is rude or unkind to others is not usually sufficient to constitute a hostile work environment. In order for a person’s workplace to be deemed ‘hostile,’ the inappropriate behavior that is directed toward an employee must humiliate, intrude upon, distress, or offend the worker to such an extent that it interferes with the worker’s ability to perform his or her job. The behavior may also undermine the worker’s well-being or cause the worker to fear for his or her safety while at work.
Situations Where a Hostile Work Environment Might Exist in a California Workplace
When it comes to hostile work environments, every situation is different. However, there are some situations where an employer has likely created or allowed a hostile work environment to exist. Some of those situations include the following:
- Workplace bullying – Workplace bullying occurs where a co-worker or supervisor levies emotional or physical abuse against an employee, to such an extent that the worker does not feel safe or welcome in the workplace.
- Harassment of a discriminatory nature – Workplace harassment of a discriminatory nature occurs when an employee falls victim to abusive actions or comments related to age, ethnicity, disability, religion, or race.
- Sexual harassment – Workplace sexual harassment often includes unwanted and unwelcome touching or staring, along with advances or comments of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment also occurs when a co-worker or employer makes repeated comments about an employee’s looks.
Who Contributes to a Hostile Work Environment in a Workplace?
There are several individuals who might contribute to a hostile working environment in a California workplace. Those individuals include work supervisors and other employees who are not supervisors. Independent contractors and even clients may cause or contribute to a hostile work environment in California.
When it comes to hostile work environments, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act – commonly known as FEHA – offers workers various legal protections when they find themselves victims. There are also several state and federal laws which safeguard individuals who are members of protected classes, including elderly workers and workers who suffer from disabilities. If you believe that you are the victim of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, it is important that you first comply with all of your employer’s internal procedures for reporting such conduct in a timely manner. An experienced California workplace discrimination attorney could help you report the conduct, and if necessary, take legal action against your employer.