In every state, employer harassment, employment discrimination, and maintaining a hostile work environment are against the law. If you are employed in a hostile work environment in or near Indianapolis, discuss your rights at once with an Indianapolis employment rights attorney.
Has someone you work with offended you with jokes about your gender or sexual orientation – or someone else’s? Have you heard racial slurs at your workplace? If your answers to these questions are “yes,” you may be employed in a hostile working environment.
Precisely what constitutes a hostile work environment? What are your rights if you are subjected to a hostile work environment? What steps will you need to take to exercise those rights? Can a court order an employer who created a hostile environment to compensate you monetarily?
If you will keep reading, these questions will be answered below, but if you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, you should also have the personalized advice that an Indianapolis employment rights lawyer offers.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
Federal and state employment laws guarantee your right to a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment, and hostile conduct.
What constitutes a “hostile” work environment? For legal purposes, it is more than bad coffee or a grouchy boss. First, there must be one or more bosses – managers, foremen, or supervisors – whose ongoing behavior and words make it extraordinarily difficult to accomplish your work.
The actions and words must violate a reasonable person’s expectations of a legal, professional, and productive work environment. Also, the actions and words must be ongoing – there must be a pattern. One explicit joke or slur does not create a pervasive, hostile working environment.
Secondly, the words and behaviors must be discriminatory. Should a boss abuse you verbally because of your race, religion, age, or gender, that boss is fueling a hostile environment. Anyone who tells lewd jokes or shares explicit images also creates a hostile working environment.
What Steps Can You Take?
If both of the above criteria apply, ask the person or persons creating the hostile work environment to stop. If your employer has a system for reporting discrimination or harassment, report it. If nothing changes after you make these efforts, you have the right to take legal action.
The law requires you to seek and exhaust internal, “administrative” resolutions before a federal or state court will hear your claim, but you should have independent legal advice from an employment rights attorney from the beginning of your fight against a hostile work environment.
An Indianapolis employment rights attorney will investigate your claim, gather evidence, speak to witnesses, and work to win justice for you privately and out-of-court. If a settlement isn’t possible, your attorney will take the employer to trial and hold that employer accountable.
How Can You Prevail With a Hostile Work Environment Claim?
If you bring legal action against an employer in Indiana, communicating the reality of a hostile work environment to a judge and jury may be a daunting challenge. You will need the legal advice and aggressive representation that an Indianapolis employment rights lawyer will provide.
To sue an employer successfully for a hostile working environment, you and your attorney must prove you were subjected to unwelcome and offensive conduct so pervasive or severe that it affected your ability to work and violated any reasonable person’s expectations for a workplace.
No one wants to get “yelled at” by the boss for any reason, but to prevail with a hostile work environment claim, you and your attorney must also prove that the hostility was discriminatory in nature or constituted harassment based on a protected trait such as race, age, or sexual identity.
Can You Sue an Employer for Emotional Distress?
Yes, employees may sue for the emotional distress caused by a hostile work environment. Emotional distress is the mental anguish caused by threatening, demeaning, or hostile behavior in the workplace.
Emotional distress may surface in unpredictable ways. Victims may have sleep difficulty, a loss of appetite, lose or gain substantial weight, and express a variety of other emotional distress symptoms. Many emotional distress sufferers require counseling.
If a supervisor, foreman, or manager causes emotional distress by creating a hostile work environment, an Indiana employment rights lawyer can explain your rights and your legal options – which may include suing the employer for your emotional distress.
Can You Be Compensated for the Costs of Emotional Distress?
If your claim for emotional distress prevails, you may be compensated for your counseling, treatment, and prescription medication costs. In fact, compensation for emotional distress may be the largest percentage of your hostile work environment verdict or settlement.
If you are dealing with work-related emotional distress, obtain counseling, try to remain active, pursue your regular activities and routines, and schedule a consultation immediately with an Indiana employment rights attorney.
How Will an Employment Rights Attorney Help You?
Your Indiana employment rights lawyer will answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns about your hostile work environment claim, the potential legal outcomes, and the possibility of recovering monetary compensation.
If you take legal action, your attorney will investigate to determine if there is a history of harassment or discrimination complaints against the employer. If your subjection to a hostile work environment is part of an overall company pattern, your claim is more likely to prevail.
Your attorney will negotiate aggressively for a reasonable settlement amount on your behalf, and if necessary, your attorney will take your case to trial and ask a jury for the compensation – and for the justice – that you need and deserve.
What’s Important to Remember?
Employees in Indiana have comprehensive legal protection against sexual harassment, employment discrimination, and hostile work environments.
If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, and if your employer will not put a stop to it, discuss your situation immediately with an employment rights lawyer.
An employee who wins a hostile work environment lawsuit in Indiana may be entitled to reimbursement for lost wages, and victims may also recover compensation for emotional distress. If you can prove your hostile work environment claim, the law will be on your side.
An employment rights attorney can provide practical insights and advice and take legal action on your behalf. If the hostility in the environment where you work is ongoing, make the call to an employment rights attorney – and put an end to the hostility – starting now.