HKM Employment Attorneys are dedicated to protecting Riverside employees in workers’ compensation and employment-related claims. One of the most common employment-related claims involves hostile work environment claims. Riverside employees have a right to work in a safe environment free from intolerable treatment, including harassment.
Unfortunately, many employees work in a toxic and hostile environment due to discrimination and retaliation. If you have been exposed to a hostile work environment in Riverside County, it is crucial that you reach out to an attorney and learn more about your rights. You may have a right to pursue a claim for compensation against your employer.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
Not all toxic work environments rise to the level of unlawful activity by employers. For example, an employer can be unreasonably demanding of employees without creating a hostile work environment under the federal and state definition. A work environment can be considered hostile when discriminatory behavior, which includes harassment based on an employee’s protected characteristics, occurs.
The unlawful conduct must be severe enough to create an intimidating or abusive environment for employees. Many hostile work environment claims involve discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, pregnancy, religion, national origin, and other protected characteristics.
Sexual Harassment Can Create a Hostile Work Environment
One of the most common hostile work environments is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is considered a type of discrimination because employees are targeted based on their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can contribute to an abusive workplace. An employee’s supervisor, coworker, agent, or even a non-employee can engage in sexual harassment in the workplace.
To file a claim, you do not always have to be the person targeted by the sexual harassment. Being in an environment in which other people are consistently targeted can be enough for you to file a claim. Employers have the responsibility to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
When employers don’t take sufficient action to stop sexual harassment, employees can hold them accountable through a hostile work environment claim. In addition to hostile work environment claims, victims of sexual harassment may be able to pursue a quid pro quo claim. Quid pro quo claims occur when a manager offers the employee an advantageous employment benefit in exchange for sexual favors or threatens the employee with adverse employment conditions for not engaging in sexual favors with them.
Examples of a Hostile Work Environment
There are many different ways, and the work environment can become hostile. It may include sexual harassment that involves grabbing, touching, groping, rubbing, and unwanted comments about a person’s body. It could consist of offensive conduct such as showing pornography, making fun of disabled people, teasing all the workers, making obscene jokes, refusing to allow females to attend social networking events, or reprimanding pregnant employees for going to doctor’s appointments.
Am I in a Hostile Work Environment?
Knowing whether you have been exposed to a hostile work environment and have a valid compensation claim can be challenging. One of the best things you can do is contact an employment attorney. An employment attorney can carefully listen to what has happened in your workplace and advise whether you have a claim for compensation and the potential value of your claim.
Many work environments are frustrating, difficult, or even toxic. Still, they do not necessarily meet the requirements of a hostile work environment under federal and state law. As a result, victims will not qualify for legal action. In other cases, employees may assume that the conduct is not serious enough to pursue a claim, but a hostile work environment has occurred.
Disruptive Work Environment
To have a valid claim for a hostile work environment, you and your attorney must show that the offensive behavior is disruptive to your work. A hostile work environment is not just distracting or annoying. It needs to be serious enough that your mental health is being negatively impacted, or you are genuinely afraid or nervous to come to the office. In this situation, litigation may be available to you as an option.
Pervasive, Severe, and Persistent
Additionally, you will need to show that the behavior was frequent or repetitive enough to create a hostile work environment. However, in some cases, one instance of severe harassment may be enough to create a hostile work environment. Generally, for your employer to have known about the hostile work environment, it must have been occurring for a length of time. If you are not sure whether the conduct was severe enough to constitute a hostile work environment, you should contact a Riverside employment attorney.
Your Employer Failed to Stop the Hostile Work Environment
Finally, you will need to prove that your employer failed to provide a safe working environment. You will need to show that your employer knew about the abuse or craftsman and failed to take appropriate measures to stop it. For this reason, it is essential that you report the harassment to your employer in writing and keep documentation of your report. Some employers may take too long to address the claim or tell you that they have addressed it when they have not.
Protections for Employees Under California Law
Employers are prohibited from allowing a hostile work environment to continue under federal law. California law offers even more protections. For example, California includes more protected characteristics than federal employment laws include. Specifically, suppose you have been treated for late work because you have one or more characteristics. In that case, you may have a valid claim for a hostile work environment under California law:
- Religion (religious creed),
- National origin,
- Physical disability,
- Mental disability,
- Medical condition,
- Genetic information,
- Marital status,
- Sex (also includes pregnancy and related medical conditions),
- Gender identity,
- Gender expression,
- Age (if over 40 years old),
- Sexual orientation,
- Military, and
- Veteran status.
Contact a Riverside Employment Attorney Today
HKM Employment Attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in hostile work environment claims. If you have experienced a hostile work environment in Riverside, California, do not hesitate to contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can fight for your rights.