What Can I Do About a Hostile Work Environment?

When you face a hostile work environment if, at all possible, you should tactfully and appropriately confront the person who is harassing you or causing the hostile work environment. You should express your disapproval in terms that are not disruptive of the workplace. You should ask them to stop and hopefully, they do. Sometimes, that's a little bit more easily said than done. If it's your boss or the head of the company or someone who supervises you, you may not feel comfortable doing that. You may need to consult your employee manual or go to human resources or the appropriate person at your place of work who can feel that kind of an issue. A hostile work environment is an environment that's continually abusive. If that's what you're experiencing, you should definitely report it. Make sure that your report is detailed, includes everything that's occurred because you want the company to have full knowledge of what happened so they can take remedial action. Make sure that you put your complaint in writing. It's always a good idea to do it by email so that you've created a record of the day and time you made your complaint. If you make a complaint and it falls on deaf ears, at that point you really want to consider reaching out to an employment lawyer to see if there are any legal remedies available to you.

Employment Discrimination Attorneys Fighting for New York City Employees

Workplace harassment may be extremely painful and exhausting for a victim, as well as many of the people around the victim. Several federal, state, and local laws have been put in place to provide victims of a hostile work environment with an opportunity to seek damages for the harm that they experienced. If you have been harmed by a hostile work environment, you may be able to recover damages with the assistance of the New York City hostile work environment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment is one type of harassment. Hostile work environment harassment is actionable if you are harassed because of a characteristic that is protected by law. For example, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is prohibited if your employer has 15 employees or more.

A hostile work environment exists if it is continually abusive. A single instance of harassment must be tremendously severe to constitute a hostile work environment. More often, this type of harassment involves frequent instances of abuse and harassing conduct or words. To create a hostile work environment, the words or behavior of the harasser must be discriminatory in nature and alter the terms or conditions of the workplace. Examples of a hostile work environment include:

  • A supervisor who sends around pornographic images or makes sexual remarks about women in the workplace
  • Racist comments or racially offensive symbols
  • Comments relating to a person’s national origin or religion such as calling someone a terrorist or Taliban/ISSIS
  • Derogatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation
  • Age related comments
  • Comments regarding a woman’s pregnancy or being a working mother

What Can I Do About a Hostile Work Environment?

If you face a hostile work environment, you should ask the person harassing you or otherwise causing the hostile work environment to stop. Although it may be emotionally challenging to express your disapproval, you should express your wish for the harassment to stop in a way that is not disruptive of the workplace. Hopefully, the individual will stop once confronted, and that will be the end of the matter.

However, harassers do not always stop when confronted, and it is particularly challenging to confront the person harassing you if they are your boss or a supervisor. You may need to consult your employment handbook about the appropriate channels through which to voice a complaint. If there is no employment handbook, you should speak to Human Resources or another appropriate person with sufficient authority to handle a dispute with the person who is making the work environment hostile.

Documenting a Hostile Work Environment

You should report a hostile work environment and also take contemporaneous notes about the harassing behavior. Your notes, as well as your correspondence to the authority to whom you are reporting the harassment, should include details. The company needs to have a thorough knowledge of what has happened in order to be able to take certain remedial steps.

The details should include what was said or done that was harassing in terms of your race, sex, sexual orientation, or another protected characteristic. You should quote any specific words that you remember and include the names of any witnesses who were present. It may be helpful to note the witnesses' reactions and whether they objected. You should also express your own feelings about what happened. This provides you with written documentation to refresh your memory about what happened and how it affected or harmed you.

If you send your correspondence by email, this may be helpful because the evidence will show the date and time that you gave the company notice about the improper conduct.

Protect Your Rights by Retaining a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer in New York City

A hostile work environment may make it very challenging to do your job or be productive. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced New York City attorneys can advise you on reporting a hostile work environment to the appropriate parties and represent you in a lawsuit if necessary. Contact us online or at (866) 229-9441 for a free appointment with a sexual harassment lawyer or assistance with a discrimination claim. We fight workplace misconduct in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey.