Hostile Work Environment Harassment Lawyers

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What Do I Need to Prove to Receive Damages for Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

Courts have held employers liable for hostile work environment harassment by supervisors when they:

Examples of when a company actually knew of the harassment include when a person in authority actually observed the harassment, the victim files a formal complaint, or the harassment is widely and openly practiced.

Examples of when a company should have learned of the harassment include when harassment is blatant, employees raised complaints which were ignored, or managers witness conduct which indicates they should make further inquiry.

In addition to knowledge of the harassment, the company must have failed to take action in order to be found liable. When the company learns of harassment, it must act promptly, and the action it takes must be effective. An effective remedy is one that will stop the harassment and prevent it from recurring. For example, if a company receives complaints of severe verbal harassment and sends the offender to counseling without any other discipline, the company likely has not devised an effective remedy if the harassment reoccurs.

Can Strict Liability Apply To Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

A small minority of courts take the position that employers can be strictly liable if the harasser is at a senior level and uses his authority to carry out the harassment. They hold that because supervisors (especially those at high levels) can wield power against subordinates and that power was given them by the employer, the employer should be liable when they exercise their power improperly.

What About Company Policies?

A court will be more likely to hold a company liable for hostile work environment harassment if the company fails to enact a harassment policy or enacts an ineffective policy or fails to enforce its policy. Harassment policies often are part of a company's nondiscrimination policy.

On the other hand, if the company has a policy that clearly prohibits harassment, and harassment occurs but is not blatant, a victim who fails to use the internal complaint procedure may have a hard time proving that the company should have been aware of the harassment.

Should I Consult Harassment Lawyers About Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

If you are being harassed at work and feel that nothing is being done about it, you should contact an employment harassment attorney immediately.  A harassment lawyer can help explain the law and assert your rights in court if needed.

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Last Modified: 04-23-2014 09:42 AM PDT

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