Harassment at the workplace comes in many forms; it is much more than inappropriate touching or making “quid pro quo” offers for continued employment. As per federal law, harassment at work includes the creation of a hostile work environment.
A workplace is termed “hostile” when an individual or group of individuals are harassed or bullied because of their protected characteristics. As per the hostile work environment law to prove an intimidating work environment, you will have to gather sufficient evidence proving the offensive and intimidating conduct to EEOC which is a federal agency.
What is the hostile work environment law?
In the United States, there is no defined federal hostile work environment law. However hostile work environments are outlawed and prohibited under several federal anti-discrimination laws, like the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), etc.
Any form of discrimination at the workplace based on an individual’s personal characteristics like race, religion, age, sex, origin, or disability can create an intimidating work environment. Any form of hostile work environment retaliation for complaining about discrimination is also considered a basis of a hostile work environment.
How to Prove a Case of Hostile Work Environment?
Harassment is not welcome in any workplace in the United States. There are Human Rights laws and the federal Civil Rights Act which prohibit any form of harassment or discrimination at the workplace.
Unfortunately, even after having so many laws in place, hostile workplaces still exist; harassment and discrimination are commonly observed in a number of workplaces across the country.
If you are a victim of discrimination at your workplace you can take the help of a professional hostile work environment lawyer who can help you understand the law and help in holding your employer accountable for allowing an intimidating work environment to exist. It is easy to make allegations against a hostile work environment but it is not easy to prove one.
Below mentioned are the steps which will help you prove a hostile work environment.
1. Understanding what is legally considered as a hostile work environment
Before you decide to file a charge of discrimination or a complaint with the EEOC against your employer, it is important to understand what type of treatment or behavior is illegal and considered discriminating.
According to the hostile work environment law, it is unlawful to discriminate any individual or group of individuals based on their race, color, religion, gender, origin, age (above 40), disability and any form of genetic information.
Though any form of harassment should never happen and be tolerated, isolated incidents of discrimination do not meet the definition of a hostile work environment.
To prove a hostile work environment, the harassment needs to be pervasive and ongoing. In simple words, workplace harassment is prohibited when:
- Undergoing the harassment is required for sustaining your employment, or
- The level of harassment is so severe that a reasonable person would consider the workplace environment to be hostile. If you have experienced harassment and discrimination of this level, you may be a victim of a hostile work environment. The next step is to build a strong case against the employer.
2. Hiring a hostile work environment lawyer
It is advisable to hire a specialized hostile work environment lawyer who can guide you with your case and help you file the complaint. An experienced lawyer will discuss with you and help put your claims into context.
Thanks to his experience he will ensure that all the procedures are followed and the charge of discrimination is filed without any issues. of your claim. The lawyer can also guide you through the next steps of the process including gathering evidence.
3. Claim investigation and gathering evidence
To prove a hostile work environment it is very important to have strong evidence of harassment and discrimination. Proofs like emails, voicemails or any other form of communication proving harassment and discrimination should be preserved.
E-mails or voicemails which prove the use of intimidating and abusive language can be vital evidence.
If you have tried to complain against the discrimination or reported any harassment to your employer, it is important to keep a record of all the reports or complaints made by you.
If you had filed a formal complaint against your manager with the HR department, it can be proved that your employer was aware of the situation and the hostile work environment.
If you have documented reports and complaints, they can help boost your case’s credibility in front of the jury.
It is also advisable to maintain a log of any harassment or threats received which could not be recorded.
By logging all these incidents, you can prove to the jury that it was not a one-off incident but a continuous behavior and harassment. Identify any witnesses who may have seen or observed these interactions or harassments. These witnesses can be called at the trial to testify for you.
4. Filing the hostile work environment lawsuit
Once the evidence is gathered and the investigation of your claim is completed, your lawyers can file a hostile work environment lawsuit against your employer.
If the case is filed under the federal discrimination laws then the case will be heard in federal court. If not, then the case would be tried in the state court. If you win the lawsuit, then your employer may have to pay you compensation for the discrimination you faced at work.
Discuss your case with a Professional hostile environment lawyer today.
Each individual deserves to go to work without fearing any form of harassment or discrimination. If you are being victimized and discriminated against at your place and you cannot take it anymore, it is time to approach a qualified Employment Lawyer.
The Khashan Law Firm is a full-service general practice law center that represents clients all across Southern California in a wide array of legal issues. We have built a reputation as successful employment lawyers and have represented several victims against their employer in hostile work environment cases.
To learn more about how our team of qualified lawyers can help you deal with a hostile work environment, call us today at 951.461.2387 to schedule you’re a free and confidential consultation.