Westchester County Hostile Work Environment
Westchester County is a highly diverse area of nearly a million residents. Substantial immigrant populations live in communities such as Scarsdale, Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and New Rochelle. Sometimes harassment occurs in the workplace. If you are uncomfortable going to work because you are being targeted for your race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, or national origin, you may have a legal claim. You may be able to recover damages if you face a hostile work environment due to a protected characteristic under federal or state law. At Phillips & Associates, our Westchester County hostile work environment lawyers are committed to helping employees fight injustice in the workplace.Establishing a Hostile Work Environment
Coworkers, customers, clients, supervisors, or managers can create a hostile work environment. It is created if harassing and offensive conduct based on a protected characteristic is so pervasive or so severe at a workplace that reasonable people would find it hostile or abusive. Federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the New York State Human Rights Law prohibit hostile work environment harassment.
Most federal laws cover midsize to large firms. For example, Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act cover employers that have a minimum of 15 employees. The New York State Human Rights Law applies to employers that have at least four employees. Sexual harassment is prohibited regardless of the size of the employer. Federal and state laws have other significant differences. For example, federal law only prohibits age discrimination against people over 40. State law prohibits age discrimination if you are 18 or older. Federal law caps compensatory damages, while state law does not. However, state law does not allow the recovery of punitive damages at all.
Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of hostile work environment harassment. Our hostile work environment attorneys can help Westchester County residents take action when this occurs. For example, if your coworkers send pornographic images to you and make sexually explicit jokes about you, this may create a hostile work environment. Similarly, if your supervisor watches pornography in a place where he can be seen and gives you a sex toy or underwear as a Christmas present, this may create a hostile work environment. Other forms of harassing conduct that could create a hostile work environment include lewd remarks, jokes, innuendoes, touching, groping, graphic memes, pictures and posters that are pornographic or suggestive, and unwelcome flirting.
However, sexual harassment is not the only form of hostile work environment harassment under state law. A hostile work environment could be created based on your race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age. A hostile work environment usually involves discriminatory comments or actions. It could be hostile work environment harassment if you wear a hijab, and your coworker repeatedly calls you a terrorist, even in jest, and makes jokes about bombs, tries to physically intimidate you in the office break room, tells you not to wear a hijab if you are a real American, and threatens to beat you up if he runs into you after work. Additionally, racist comments in the workplace can form the basis of a hostile work environment. Our Westchester County hostile work environment attorneys could also help you bring a claim if you are black, and your supervisor calls you the n-word, sends you a noose, and sends you memes of black people.
In most cases, it is wiser to pursue a hostile work environment claim under both the New York State Human Rights Law and Title VII, in order to maximize potential liability. You should be documenting events that you view as harassing. Your notes should be taken just after the harassment if possible and should be dated. You should report what happened according to the grievance procedures that are set forth in your employment handbook. You should let the harasser know directly that his or her behavior is unwelcome. If there are no grievance procedures specified, you should provide oral and written notice to HR about what happened.Seek Advice from a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer in Westchester County
At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help clients who have faced a hostile work environment in Westchester County. If you believe that you have been a victim of this situation due to your age, race, disability, gender, or another protected trait, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free appointment. We represent clients in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, and White Plains.