If you’re subjected to a hostile work environment, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit against your employer or the people responsible for making your workplace unbearable.
However, you should talk to a Glendale employment lawyer to find out whether a hostile work environment lawsuit is possible.
What Qualifies as a Hostile Work Environment for Lawsuit Purposes?
A hostile work environment is one in which harassment is so severe or pervasive that it changes your working conditions. It’s more than just having a bad boss, an unpleasant environment or a set of rude coworkers, although those things can definitely contribute to a bad situation in the workplace. There are legal requirements your workplace must meet if you intend to file a hostile work environment lawsuit.
Related: Hostile work environments in California
Can I Sue My Employer for Creating a Hostile Work Environment?
Legally, a work environment may be hostile enough to file a lawsuit if your boss or coworker (or a combination of bosses and coworkers) does things or communicates in a way that makes doing your job impossible. The behavior or actions – or the language your boss or coworker uses – must be discriminatory in nature, too.
Simple rudeness, while it’s a huge pain to deal with at work, doesn’t create a hostile work environment. Neither does obnoxious behavior or an occasional inappropriate comment.
But here’s what could:
- Coworkers telling sexually explicit jokes
- People sharing pornographic images
- People using derogatory names for each other based on race or ethnicity
- Bosses berating you about things that make you part of a protected class, such as your age, religion, gender or race
Related: What is verbal harassment at work?
Can You Sue Your Employer for Emotional Distress?
In most cases, you can’t sue your employer because your boss yelled at you. However, if your boss yells at you or discriminates against you because of your age, religion, gender or race, you may be able to file a hostile work environment lawsuit.
Legal Requirements for a Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit
In order to file a hostile work environment lawsuit against your employer, your attorney will check to see if the right criteria have been met. The legal requirements for a hostile work environment lawsuit include:
- Actions or behavior that discriminate against a protected class
- Actions or behavior that is pervasive, lasts over time and constitutes more than an occasional inappropriate remark or behavior
- You reported the behavior or asked the people participating in it to stop, but nothing has changed – even if your employer investigated the incidents
- The hostility of your work environment prevents you from doing your job properly or interfered with your career progression
- It’s reasonable to believe that your employer knew about the actions and didn’t do enough (or anything at all) to stop it
What to Do Before You File a Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit
If you’re stuck in a hostile work environment, tell the people involved that they need to stop. If they don’t, or if you’re uncomfortable addressing the people involved, let someone else know. You can tell your boss, your organization’s Human Resources department or your boss’s supervisor. You can even let a supervisor in another area know if you’re not comfortable going to your own boss.
In many cases, once you let the person who’s responsible know that he or she is behaving offensively, they’ll stop – a lot of times, people don’t realize how badly they’re behaving until someone tells them.
A hostile work environment lawsuit is very unlikely to succeed unless the offender knows he or she is behaving inappropriately – and unless the person has a chance to correct his or her behavior.
The good news is that employers generally take hostile work environments seriously, and many will take big steps to stop workplace harassment from happening at all. However, if your employer doesn’t, you may need to talk to a Glendale employment lawyer for help.
Do You Need to Talk to a Glendale Employment Lawyer About Filing a Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit?
Call us right away at 818-918-3876 for a free consultation with a Glendale and Los Angeles employment lawyer right now, or fill out the form below. We’ll answer your questions and evaluate your situation, and if we can help you, we will.