When you have been subjected to harassment and discrimination in the workplace, you may feel the quality of the work you are able to produce is failing. As the behavior continues, you may even begin to feel the hostile nature of the workplace impacting other areas of your life, making you feel like the only option is to resign or quit. These are hostile work environments.
At Brown Kwon & Lam, we know how serious hostile work environments and their cases are, which is why we will stand with you.
What is a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is a form of employment discrimination based upon the verbal or physical actions that can negatively impact other employees’ work performance. Whereas discrimination can occur within the hiring process, a hostile work environment occurs once employment has been secured, and conduct occurs within the confines on the workplace.
Hostile work environment actions may result from an employee who is subjected to bullying, unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment, or insults from another employee or supervisor.
Though sex and gender discrimination can be the cause of hostile work environments, other forms of discrimination can occur, such as race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
In order to prove the existence of a hostile work environment, an employee must first establish he or she is part of a protected group.
How to Prove You Work In One
In addition to showing the employee belongs to a protected group under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are protocols under New York State law that must be met.
In New York, an employee can bring a claim against a supervisor, manager, or co-worker for causing a hostile work environment. However, the employee bringing the charges must illustrate that the conduct was repeated.
In a hostile work environment case, the courts will determine whether the conduct in question is pervasive or severe, meaning the conduct was repeated or just severe enough to heighten tensions and fear.
Though offensive comments are not typically enough to show a hostile work environment, if the comments are paired with physical acts, the court is more likely to side with the victim.
Just like any other form of discrimination, it is important that you document and report your concerns. This may include notes, shared emails, witness accounts, physical evidence, and relevant policies in the workplace.
When you show your employer the actions happening and they still do nothing to protect you, they must be held accountable.
Employer Liability for Harassment, Hostile Work Environment
It is important to know that the hostile work environment case can be difficult as an employer can avoid liability if:
- The employer reasonably tried to prevent and correct the harassing behavior; and
- The employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
Remember, a hostile work environment claim may be valid under New York City Human Rights Law, even if it does not meet federal or state criteria. For example, in New York City, an employee only needs to show that he or she was treated less favorably than other employees due to a protected characteristic, resulting in a hostile work environment.
If found guilty under state, federal, or local law, the employer will be liable for harassment by employees, supervisory employees, or contractors, if they knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate action to remedy the hostile work environment.
In addition to the liability the employer will retain, you may receive compensatory damages, including any lost wages as well as money spent seeking new employment.
Contact The New York City Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Today
As a member of a protected class, group, identity, etc., you are legally entitled to a safe work environment with equal opportunities, rights, and safety. But when your employer allows a hostile work environment to continue, you deserve justice. We urge you to not quit your job until you speak with us, as it can negatively impact your claim.
If you believe that you were a victim of a hostile work environment, call Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.