A hostile work environment occurs when someone’s behavior, actions, or communication make it impossible to effectively do your job. Threatening and intimidating behavior, harassment, and interference with an employee’s performance may be considered hostile conduct.
Not all offenses are actionable, and an employment law attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a claim. Since some companies can be quite large, you can bet they will have strong legal representation, and so should you.
Courts use several requirements in determining whether or not a working environment is hostile, including:
Strict liability may apply in a hostile work environment case, if the perpetrator is high level, and abuses his power by behaving pervasively. Some courts may apply strict liability to the employer, while others may not. The premise being, the employer gave the abuser the power, therefore the employer is liable when that power is abused.
Legally, sexual harassment encompasses unwelcome sexual advances, sexual favor requests, and physical or verbal actions that are sexual in nature. These actions must be severe and frequent enough that they develop into a hostile work environment.
Sexual harassment falls into two categories:
Indirect harassment can occur anytime another individual is privy to or harmed by the harassment of another person. If a person takes offense to any actions, communication, or behavior, a court may find that the environment is hostile.
Indirect sexual harassment could involve overhearing lewd conversation, seeing offensive images, or witnessing the harassment of a co-worker. Another indirect harassment scenario is if a third party should have received a promotion, but a coworker who submitted to a manager’s sexual advances received the promotion instead.
Companies typically have strict nondiscrimination policies in place to protect itself and its employees. However, if a company is aware of a harassment scenario, and fails to end the harassment, a court may find the company liable. The company may also be found liable if any adverse action was taken against the complainant.
Proving company liability may be difficult if:
No one should have to be subjected to a hostile work environment. If you were victimized at work, consult an employment law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help put your case together, and get the relief to which you are entitled.
Last Modified: 07-24-2018 05:45 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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