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What the law says about hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2020 | Workplace Harassment

If you feel intimidated, abused or harassed by superiors or colleagues at your job, you are experiencing workplace harassment. When this harassment centers on your religion, gender identity, race, advanced age or pregnancy, you may have recourse under federal discrimination laws.

When your workplace impacts your mental health and ability to function, learn more about your employee rights in this situation.

Conduct that constitutes harassment

For a successful legal claim, you must be able to illustrate chronic, severe harassment that would offend most reasonable people. For example, you may suffer from exposure to offensive images, threats, physical intimidation, mockery, insulting language and jokes, foul names, or even ethnic or racial slurs.

Anyone you come in contact with at work can create a hostile environment. You can experience harassment at the hands of a manager, coworker, partner, agent, stakeholder or even just a visitor to the job site. You do not necessarily need to show that the harassment caused you financial loss to have a case.

Legal responsibility

Federal law considers your employer liable automatically if you prove harassment by a supervisor that resulted in termination, lack of promotion or lost wages. In this case, the company must prove that you refused measures they attempted to take to resolve the harassment. In other cases, you can only sue the company if you can prove that they knew or should have known about the hostile work environment but chose not to address it.

You have 180 days after conduct that creates a hostile work environment to file a legal complaint. You can submit your report of harassment to the federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

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