Can I Sue For A Hostile Work Environment?
Going into the office every day is hard enough, let alone when there is a hostile environment waiting for you. Many people would probably describe their jobs as stressful or boring, but a hostile job environment takes workplace misery to another level. When your livelihood is dependent upon a job that is causing you emotional and psychological harm, it is easy to feel trapped and discouraged. Luckily, if you are a California employee, there are legal options available to you and our lawyers are ready to help. In this post we will explore what makes an environment hostile and what you can do about it. Of course, the information provided here is intended to be general. However, if you would like personalized feedback based on your specific case you are welcome to schedule a consultation with the Costanzo Law Firm.
What is a Hostile Environment?
A hostile environment in the workplace occurs due to pervasive, severe, and ongoing harassment. This harassment must be based on a protected characteristic, in order to meet the legal criteria outlined in the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) definition of hostile environment harassment. Protected characteristics include things like age (if over 40), gender, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, gender identity, military status, pregnancy and possibly more. Many people mistakenly think that a hostile work environment has to be related to sexual harassment, however, any protected characteristic is sufficient to meet the federal law definition. Hostile environments also do not have to be created exclusively by people who have power over you. Supervisors and/or co-workers can both contribute to or create a hostile environment.
Proving a Hostile Environment
The two primary elements of a hostile environment harassment claim are that the harassment was pervasive and severe and that it was based on a protected characteristic. It can be challenging to prove definitively that you were being harassed specifically because of a protected characteristic or status you have, however, it is critical to do so. Shockingly, it is not illegal for supervisors and co-workers to bully you in the workplace, show favoritism toward your co-workers, be mean or rude to you. – These bad acts are only legally actionable if we can establish a connection between the way you are being treated and that you are a member of a protected status. This can be done by finding specific instances of language used in emails to describe you and by keeping a detailed log of all of the harassment that you have experienced. When you are surviving in a hostile environment, you become used to a high level of negative behavior, and it can become harder to pick out what is out of line, so keeping a detailed log can help you to maintain your perspective as well as to gather evidence.
Talk to the Costanzo Law Firm
If you are the victim of workplace harassment, discrimination, or are suffering due to your California employer’s hostile environment, the experienced San Jose personal injury lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm are ready to fight to get you the compensation that you are entitled to. Contact Costanzo Law Firm today and find out how we can help you take your power back.