Hostile Work Environments
New York Hostile Work Environment Lawyers
Experiencing harassment and discrimination in the workplace can cause the quality of your work to fall. As the behavior continues, you may begin to feel the hostile nature of your workplace impacting other areas of your life. Eventually, you may feel like the only option is to resign or quit. Workplaces like this 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?
Hostile work environments are a form of employment discrimination. This discrimination comes in the form of verbal or physical actions that negatively impact other employees’ work performances. While discrimination can occur within the hiring process, a hostile work environment occurs once employed within the confines of the workplace. This is not limited to a physical work environment but happens in a work-from-home environment as well.
Hostile work environments subject employees to:
- Unwelcome physical contact
- Sexual harassment
- Insults from another employee or supervisor
There are many forms of discrimination that can be the cause of hostile work environments, including:
- Sexual orientation.
To prove the existence of a hostile work environment, one must prove that they are part of a protected group.
How to Prove You Work In One
Aside from proving you belong to a protected group under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there are protocols you must meet under New York State Law.
In New York, you can bring a claim against a supervisor, manager, or co-worker for creating a hostile work environment. However, repetition of misconduct must be proven as well.
In a hostile work environment case, the courts will determine whether the conduct in question is pervasive or severe. This means that the conduct repeated and/or was severe enough to heighten tensions and fear in the workplace.
Offensive comments are not typically enough to prove 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 what’s been happening and they still do nothing to protect you, we can help you hold them accountable.
Employer Liability for Harassment, Hostile Work Environment
Know that a 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 their protected characteristic caused them to be treated less favorably than other employees, resulting in a hostile work environment.
If found guilty under state, federal, or local law, the employer will be liable for harassment if they:
- Knew and did nothing.
- Should have known about the harassment.
- Failed to take prompt and appropriate action to remedy the hostile work environment after learning about the harassment.
In addition to the liability the employer will retain, you may receive compensatory damages. This includes any lost wages as well as money spent seeking new employment.
Everyone is legally entitled to a safe work environment, that includes every protected class, group, identity, etc. You deserve to work 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, contact Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.