Indianapolis Hostile Work Environment Lawyers Here to Help
Every worker deserves a safe workplace free from harassment. While there are state and federal laws in place to encourage a harassment-free environment, many employers ignore the law for their own personal reasons or biases. If the harassment persists or becomes severe, it could become a hostile work environment. An unsafe and uncomfortable workplace of this type can lead to unnecessary stress on employees, high turnover, and lawsuits, which is where a hostile work environment lawyer comes in to fight for justice and fair treatment.
Call The Law Office of Deidra N. Haynes today at 317-982-7396 for answers to your hostile work environment questions.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is created when harassment is severe, abusive, and pervasive. It is harassment with the intent of being intimidating in order to make the employee feel like they must endure the harassment or lose their job. The harassment may be verbal, physical, or a combination of both. Harassment of any type is still against the law, but in order for it to qualify as a hostile work environment, the harassment will involve discrimination against one or more of the legally protected classes. As defined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII, harassment based on the following protected classes is illegal:
- Marital Status
- National Origin
- Sex/Gender Identity
It is important to note that there is a difference between harassment and a boss or coworker occasionally saying something rude or unprofessional in the workplace. Harassment is intended to harm the victim either physically or mentally and is often rooted in a bias such as racism, sexism, or homophobia. It is also worth remembering that an isolated incident does not typically count as a hostile work environment. Hostile work environments occur when the harassment is persistent and ongoing. If someone is experiencing an uncomfortable workplace and they feel like a victim of harassment, reaching out to a hostile work environment lawyer may help them define whether it is discrimination based on one of the protected classes as defined by federal law.
Examples of Hostile Work Environment
There are several examples of harassment as it relates to a hostile work environment. The harassment may come from a supervisor, which naturally creates a hostile work environment since the employee will worry that they could lose their job if they speak up about the abuse. When workplace harassment comes from a coworker in a non-supervisory position, it is still harassment and may become a hostile work environment. Furthermore, if a supervisor knows about the harassment and does not put an end to it (either through disciplinary action or termination of the abuser), the supervisor and the coworker can both be held responsible in a hostile work environment case.
Harassment in a hostile work environment is either verbal or physical, but an abuser may employ both tactics in their attacks. Verbal harassment includes inappropriate comments, jokes, questions, insults, slurs, or other offensive remarks made routinely in the workplace. Physical abuse is any type of unwelcome touching such as hitting, pushing, groping, or other forms of unwanted contact. It is important to note that physical harassment does not always mean violence. Many sexual harassment incidents involve unwanted caress or touch that is not meant to be violent in the same way as hitting or punching, but it is still harassment capable of causing distress to the victim. While some acts of workplace harassment are more obvious than others, it may be harder to tell if others (such as jokes) cross the line, which is where an experienced hostile work environment lawyer would be able to help.
How Do You Prove Hostile Work Environment?
While isolated incidents of harassment are more likely to go underreported, a hostile work environment usually becomes so severe or persistent that the victim has no choice but to quit or file a complaint and seek legal counsel. In order to prove the harassment created a hostile work environment, there are a few things an attorney will look for in the situation. For starters, workplace harassment should be based on one of the protected classes such as age, sex, race, or religion. The hostile work environment lawyer will also consider if the comment or action of alleged harassment was offensive and unwelcome. Many abusers will claim they did not know the comment or action was offensive or unwelcome because the victim did not make it known that they were uncomfortable. This is why it is important to report incidents of harassment right away to make it clear to the abuser that the action or comment was unwanted. However, this can be tricky when the abuser is a supervisor. Another way of proving the harassment is a hostile work environment is if the unwelcome conduct is reported and still occurs even after the report or disciplinary action, which a hostile work environment lawyer will use to show the harassment was ongoing.
What Does a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Do?
In addition to proving the harassment, a hostile work environment lawyer works with the client to gather any necessary information in order to form a viable case against the employer or abuser. They may also look for a pattern of hostile work environment complaints within the company to establish a pattern. The hostile work environment attorney will also answer any questions the client may have about the legal aspects of harassment, the case details, and the possible outcomes. The lawyer will also serve as the liaison and representative between the client and the employer, as well as speak on behalf of the client in front of the judge.
Get Legal Help Today
Dealing with a hostile work environment can take a toll mentally and physically over time. If you are the victim of this type of illegal workplace treatment, reach out to us at 317-982-7396 today. We may be able to help put an end to the harassment by seeking the justice you deserve.