What are you supposed to do when your coworkers create a hostile work environment through harassment? Do you have to deal with it just so you can keep your job? Is there anything you can do to stop the harassment without taking legal action, and if there isn’t, where can you turn?
You need to know that you’re not alone if you’re working in a hostile environment. While you’re just trying to make it through each day, the law is on your side — and you may need to get in touch with a sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles or Glendale if your employer hasn’t put a stop to it.
What is Hostile Work Environment Harassment?
Creating or fostering a hostile work environment is against California and federal law; in fact, all forms of sexual harassment are against the law.
You may be experiencing hostile work environment harassment if you’re facing intimidation, hostility, or offensive conduct just by showing up. While the conduct might be targeted at one specific person, it doesn’t have to be; even if you’re not the direct victim of this type of harassment, you may have legal recourse.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment: Who’s to Blame?
Anyone can create a hostile work environment. This type of harassment isn’t like quid pro quo sexual harassment, which typically occurs between a supervisor and a subordinate.
Any of your coworkers — one or more of them — could be responsible for creating a hostile work environment.
Requirements to Prove Hostile Work Environment Harassment
When the courts look at hostile work environment harassment cases, they’re looking for specific criteria. In order for the court to find that a work environment is hostile, at least as it pertains to sexual harassment, it must meet these elements:
- The harassment is based on sex (but not necessarily physical sex; in this context, it’s gender)
- The harassment includes unwelcome conduct
- The conduct would be offensive to a reasonable person in the same situation
- The conduct is either so severe or so pervasive that it creates a hostile environment
Sexual harassment certainly can contribute to a hostile work environment; nobody wants to go to work when they’re constantly exposed to lewd remarks, sexual innuendo, and sexual advances. However, gender-based harassment can occur when males and females square off in the workplace and one group (or one person) is targeted, bullied, or bothered.
In order for workplace conduct to actually be a form of harassment, it must be unwelcome. In this context, unwelcome doesn’t mean nonconsensual; that’s an important distinction, because in many cases, people “go along” with the harassment just to get through the day or to keep their jobs. Even if you’ve gone along with the harassment, you may still have a case — the key is that the conduct was unwelcome.
Harassment That Would Offend a Reasonable Person
If another reasonable person were in your shoes, would he or she find the conduct offensive? Your sexual harassment lawyer will need to show the court that the conduct would also be offensive to another reasonable person.
Severe or Pervasive Harassment
Under California law, the harassment must either be so severe or so pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment. One act of physical harassment can be severe, and several acts (even if they’re not “severe”) occurring over time can be pervasive.
Examples of Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Some of the most common reasons people talk to sexual harassment lawyers include:
- Physical harassment, which involves touching or the threat of touching
- Verbal harassment, which includes lewd or sexual remarks and sexually derogatory comments
- Sexually written harassment, which includes emails and text messages
- Visual harassment, which includes photos and videos
- Sexual advances, which can involve several types of unwanted conduct
Talking to a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles
If you’re working in a hostile environment because of harassment, you don’t have to “deal with it.” It’s against the law to create or foster a hostile work environment, and you may need to talk to a sexual harassment lawyer serving Glendale and Los Angeles about your legal options.
What Your L.A. Sexual Harassment Lawyer Will Ask You
Your sexual harassment lawyer will ask you about the type of harassment you’re experiencing. He’ll need to know whether it’s hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment, and he’ll ask you to explain how it’s affecting your daily life, your work performance, and your emotional well-being.
Documenting Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Before you contact a sexual harassment lawyer in L.A. or Glendale, you should contact your company’s human resources department, your supervisor, or your supervisor’s supervisor and make a formal complaint. Make sure your complaints are made in a formal setting, and make sure you’ve documented your claims.
Your attorney will ask you whether your employer responded or took action. If your employer doesn’t take action, it’s time to talk to a sexual harassment attorney.
Do You Need a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles?
You don’t have to fight this battle by yourself; we may be able to help you. We’ve helped many people in Glendale and Los Angeles fight for their rights to work in a harassment-free workplace, and we can do the same for you.
Call us at 818-617-9706 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 for a confidential, free consultation with a sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles. We understand what you’re going through, and we know how to help.