Whenever someone brags to you about the hazing they endured in order to get to their current position in their job, you should run, not walk, in the other direction. Some professions are, by nature, a high-pressure work environment, but that does not give your work supervisors the right to antagonize you intentionally. Take the movie The Devil Wears Prada, for example. Working long hours and meeting short deadlines is part and parcel of fashion journalism, but Andie would have been well within her rights to complain about body shaming, being asked to do two mutually exclusive things at once, and having her concerns dismissed. Your coworkers do not have to treat you like a close friend, but the law protects you from bullying and harassment by coworkers and work supervisors. A hostile work environment characterized by harassment and bullying is employment discrimination. To find out more, contact the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Death by a Thousand Cuts
Many of us have been in an environment that was unpleasant and uncomfortable because the people there were unkind and inconsiderate to you, or perhaps outright hostile. Most of the time, the solution is simply to avoid going back into that environment. You can decide not to join that sorority, go to a different dentist, or spend the holidays with a different extended family member. When the hostile environment is your workplace, though, the solution is not so simple, to say nothing of the fact that the hostile environment at work is more bothersome because most people spend a lot more time at work than they do at dentist’s appointments. When you describe to a friend why the environment (your workplace, sorority rush, the dentist’s office, or your father-in-law’s house, as the case may be) is so unbearable, the examples you can think of might sound like small incidents, but when they happen all the time, and you are constantly aware that they could get worse, the hostile work environment can make it difficult or impossible to do your job.
These are some of the types of harassment that employees experience in a hostile work environment:
- Personal insults
- Unfair or ad hominem criticism of the employee’s job performance
- Rude or offensive jokes at the employee’s expense or about a racial, ethnic, or religious group to which the employee belongs
- Threats of adverse action by the employer, threats of physical violence, or threats to ruin the employee’s reputation
- False or malicious rumors about the employee
- Unwanted touching or physical violence
- Sabotaging the employee’s work
If you have experienced any of these types of harassment at work, contact the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
How the Law Protects You From a Harassment in the Workplace in Irvine
Federal and state laws protect workers from employment discrimination, including harassment and hostile work environment. In some cases, the harassment is just plain old discrimination; in other words, the supervisors or coworkers target the employee because of a protected characteristic of the employee, such as the employee’s race, gender, religion, family status, or disability. In other cases, the harassment begins when the employee engages in a protected action, and others at the employee’s workplace are angry about it. In other words, the hostile environment is a form of retaliation. The law includes retaliation against employees who engage in protected actions as a form of employment discrimination.
A protected activity is an action that, even though it might offend your employer, the law guarantees your right to do it. These are some examples of protected actions:
- Voting in an election
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim after getting injured in a work accident or being diagnosed with an occupational disease
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability
- Requesting a medical leave or family leave pursuant to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
- Reporting unsafe conditions in your workplace to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Reporting an ethical violation or participating in a whistleblower action
- Reporting a crime that occurred in your workplace to law enforcement
- Filing a discrimination complaint
- Participating in an investigation into a discrimination complaint or another alleged violation at your place of employment
Working under threat of retaliation is scary and stressful. The Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can advise you on what to do in a hostile situation at your workplace.
What to Do if Your Irvine Employer Has Perpetuated a Hostile Work Environment
If your employer has created a hostile work environment for you, or if your coworkers constantly harass you and your employer does nothing to stop it, you have every reason to file a discrimination complaint. In some cases, the first step is to contact the human resources department at your workplace, before contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the harassment started after you contacted human resources, then it is retaliation for your complaint to HR, and you should go straight to the EEOC. Before you do either of those two things, though, it is best to discuss strategy with the Irvine employment discrimination lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Dealing with the EEOC is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit against your employer in court. After you file a complaint with the EEOC under the guidance of your EEOC counselor, the EEOC will conduct an investigation; they will notify you of the results of the investigation within six months. Once the EEOC finishes the investigation and authorizes you to proceed with litigation, the lawsuit can go forward.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Workplace Harassment in Irvine
Bullying and hazing of coworkers is as illegal as it is unprofessional, but simply stating this fact is not usually enough to deter workplace bullies. HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP represents employees in the public and private sectors who are experiencing harassment and other forms of discrimination at work. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.