How to Respond to a Hostile Work Environment
Have you been facing discrimination and offensive behavior in your office? When a person’s behavior within the workplace creates an environment that leads to difficulties for another person, the work environment becomes hostile. Fondling, sexually-suggestive photos displayed in the workplace, suggestive remarks, and use of sexual language or any off-color jokes are highly common complaints in sexual harassment lawsuits related to the workplace.
Any small issue or annoyance might not be considered to be illegal, if they are not creating a work environment that would be intimidating, offensive or hostile to a reasonable person. Employment lawyers in Houston, working at the Khemka & Choudhary, stated that if the employer does not attempt to prevent such harassment, he can also be held liable. In addition, the employee should be able to take advantage of existing harassment countermeasures or tools provided by the employer, as stated by the Labor Law in Houston.
Is Your Work Environment Hostile?
Employment attorneys say that there are certain legal requirements under the Labor Law for a work environment to be called “hostile”, such as:
- The actions or behavior of the coworkers or boss must discriminate against a protected classification, such as religion, age, disability or race.
- The behavior must be pervasive, lasting over time. The problem becomes significant if it is not investigated and addressed effectively enough by the organization to stop the behavior.
- To be called hostile, the behavior, actions or communication must be severe. The hostility must have seriously disrupted the employee’s work and his working abilities. Additionally, the hostility must have interfered with the employee’s career progress. For instance, if a deserving employee failed to receive a promotion or job rotation, it is considered a part of hostile behavior.
- Situations where the employer knew about the actions or behavior but did not sufficiently intervene. Consequently, the employer can be liable for creating or promoting a hostile environment.
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Taking Action Against a Hostile Work Environment
The first step you need to take is to ask the offending employee to stop their behavior or communication. If you are finding it difficult to do it on your own, solicit help from a manager or the Human Resources department.
In the event that the offending behavior is coming from another employee, use your other colleagues as witnesses to the fact that you did ask the offending employee to stop the behavior. In a majority of the cases, the attempt to make the offending employee notice that their behavior was discriminatory or inappropriate leads to the employee stopping the behavior.
If you have reported the behavior of a manager or supervisor to the appropriate HR staff member or the employer, the behavior should stop. Also, the reported individual should not retaliate against you as payback for the complaint.
If all this hasn’t worked for you, the next step that should to be taken is to ask for help from an experienced employment attorney. They will investigate your complaint and help eliminate the behavior through legal means. Unfortunately, in most scenarios, you may find yourself surprised about how vigilantly your employer acts in front of the attorney to prevent current and future incidents that may contribute to a hostile work environment.
If the situation persists, it may be time for you to consider filing a lawsuit against the offender and employer as well, with the help of a discrimination & retaliation attorney.