Every employee deserves to earn their living in a safe and healthy environment. You should be able to fulfill your duties without feeling intimidated, violated or harassed in any way. Sadly, this is not the case for every employee—even workers in Atlanta. A toxic workplace will not only affect you physically but can be emotionally and psychologically draining.
What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is one where you are harassed or discriminated against to the point that it affects your work performance. The misconduct must be associated with your race, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age and even pregnancy. Examples of actions that create a hostile work environment include:
- Offensive jokes, indecent sexual or age-related comments, racial slurs or verbal threats
- Inappropriate touching and gestures
- Oppressive conduct and mistreatment by superiors
- Humiliation by co-workers
- Being harassed to quit your job
A hostile environment doesn’t happen by itself. Co-workers, bosses, managers, and any other person you interact with can create a hostile workplace. However, not every annoying behavior is illegal or can be called workplace discrimination or workplace harassment.
What to Do When You Find Yourself in A Hostile Work Environment
Both the state and federal laws protect you as an employee from any activity at the workplace that may result in a hostile work environment. If you are in one, report any harassment or discriminatory behavior to the management with regards to your company’s harassment policy. This shows that you tried to stop the vice and will help your hostile work environment claims.
You also have a right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing many federal employment laws including discriminatory laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Always seek legal advice from employment attorneys from a reputable law firm for the best representation.
If you decide to report the issue, involve a hostile work environment attorney to help you protect yourself against any retaliation for being a whistleblower, such as wrongful termination. Ensure that you always record the incidents as they occur to give your employment lawyers time when arguing your case.
How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment Case
When seeking legal action for your workplace distress, you should be able to prove your claims adequately. You will then be entitled to compensation for your suffering or punitive damages. For your case to hold water, you need to show that:
- You were harassed or discriminated against based on your characteristics like gender, religion or sexual orientation
- The treatment was unwelcome
- The behavior was pervasive, consistently took place for a long period
- You already reported the issue to the management, but there was negligence in handling the case
If you are a victim of a hostile work environment, contact HKM Employment Attorneys in Atlanta. Schedule a consultation, and we can help you understand what recourse you have. We work with clients across Metro Atlanta, from Decatur to Alpharetta, and beyond. Contact us today to learn your options and put your mind at ease.