What is considered a hostile work environment claim?

Employment Law

What is considered a hostile work environment claim?

Are you feeling harassed in your workplace but aren’t sure whether it would be considered harassment under the law? Do you feel that your place of employment is a hostile work environment?

Below, we’ll discuss what constitutes a hostile work environment. We’ll also examine what sorts of hostile work environment claims can lead to justified compensation under the law.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment According to the Law?

According to United States law and the law in the State of California, a hostile work environment may be any work environment in which an individual or individuals are making everyday life uncomfortable, difficult, or unduly challenging for another employee(s). Examples might involve discrimination, intimidation, and sexual harassment, but other situations may also create a hostile environment.

This behavior may lead the employee(s) to feel like they have to quit or continue enduring the abuse. Sometimes, this is even the object of the abuse.

When Can an Employee Bring a Hostile Work Environment Claim?

In California, an employee can bring a hostile work environment claim under The Fair Employment and Housing Act (or FEHA).

What does an employee need to prove?

Naturally, the first thing the employee will need to prove is that they were indeed subjected to harassment based on one of their protected characteristics (sex, race, etc.). This harassment must have created an oppressive, hostile, intimidating, or simply offensive work environment.

Physical proof will be necessary, so it is essential to save any evidence you think may corroborate and boost your case. For example, keep any offending emails, text messages, photos, or other pertinent correspondence.

What Are “Protected Characteristics”?

The offending behavior will be against the plaintiff’s protected characteristics. For example, an employee may be harassed at work because she is a woman. In this case, the individual’s gender is the protected characteristic.

According to the FEHA, some examples of protected characteristics under the law include a person’s race, national origin, sex, disability status, and more. Both physical and mental attributes can be considered protected characteristics. Likewise, someone’s veteran status is also considered a protected characteristic.

If you’re unsure which of your protected characteristics was violated, it’s important to unpack this and discuss it with your attorney.

Here’s an example of a situation in action: A potential client calls me and states that he is of Mexican descent. His coworkers and supervisors comment on him, saying he should return to where he came from.

Here, we can connect the dots. Those harassing comments directed at that potential client are based on his race or national origin, and that’s a protective characteristic.

This is just one example of a hostile work environment claim and how we can create a justified case for which the employee may receive justified compensation for their suffering and possible loss of income due to feeling like they must quit.

Contact Knoll Law Group

Knoll Law Group has been in operation for more than thirty years. We proudly represent individuals who suffer verbal harassment or even physical harassment in the workplace. If this is you, you may have a legitimate claim against your employer, and we’d like to help.

Do you feel you are being harassed in the workplace? Are you being forced to work in an environment that feels uncomfortable, unsafe, intimidating, or otherwise tricky?

Naturally, all situations like this are inherently unique, so you must discuss the details of your case with a professional who understands the law. We would happily investigate your claim with you and discuss your legal options. If you have questions about hostile work environment claims, don’t hesitate to contact Knoll Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

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