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It’s important to love where you work, however, that’s not always possible. At the end of the day, people get jobs to support themselves and their families. However, going to work in a hostile environment can make even the most loyal and hard-working employee completely miserable. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of a hostile work environment. In today’s blog, we answer the most commonly asked questions about working in a hostile work environment and how an experienced employment law attorney can help advocate on your behalf.
Typically speaking, any actions in the workplace that cause an employee to feel scared, intimidated or uncomfortable are the first signs of a hostile work environment. As such, these actions could include unwanted sexual advancements, ridicule, threats for punishments, aggressiveness (both emotional and physical), or not feeling comfortable to speak up or carry out tasks without fear of repercussion.
Legally speaking, however, the Equal Employment Opportunity Comission (EEOC) says the following about defining a hostile work environment: “Harassment that causes a hostile work environment is “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.”
The EEOC goes on to say that “petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) aren’t considered illegal.” So while a co-worker may make an off-color joke, if it’s not discriminatory, it will not be considered a basis for an EEOC complaint or be considered a hostile work environment.
If you suspect that your workplace is a hostile environment, there are several things you should do. First, you should file a formal complaint with your employer. While this may seem counterintuitive (especially if it’s your supervisor who’s creating the hostile environment), filing a complaint shows that you tried to remedy the situation and offers you legal protection. Furthermore, it’s illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint about harassment and/or discrimination, however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Next, it’s important to obtain evidence that can help validate the basis of your complaint. This means you should document the dates, times and any pertinent information about who you spoke to and any meetings that were the result of you bringing your complaints to management and the Human Resources department. You should also document anything that gives credence to your complaint. These include voicemails, emails, letters and dates and times of any negative interactions with co-workers or superiors. This is important because it establishes a pattern of hostility in the workplace. The next important step is to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of the law. Your lawyer will be able to investigate the details of your case, speak with any third party witnesses and help establish a pattern of abuse.
Individuals are afforded certain rights when they go to work. When these rights have been dismissed, workers have the right to pursue legal action. The Hackensack NJ Accident Attorney at the Epstein Law Firm, P.A. have years of experience handling these types of hostile work environment claims. We’ve successfully represented clients in all forms of discrimination cases and advocated for their right to have a safe and hostile-free workplace. The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represents clients in Paterson, Hackensack, Paramus, Englewood and throughout New Jersey. Call 201-231-7847 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
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Rochelle Park, NJ 07662
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