The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines a hostile work environment as one in which an employee feels uncomfortable, intimidated, or frightened in the workplace due to offensive behavior, harassment, or abuse by coworkers and/or superiors. Employees cannot perform successfully in hostile work environments, and can suffer a range of personal and professional damages. If you believe you work in a hostile environment in Alabama, come to Powers Injury Law for help. Our personal injury attorneys can file a claim with the EEOC and/or the civil courts on your behalf according to your situation.
Factors of a Hostile Work Environment
If you’re experiencing a workspace that feels unbearable, it’s time to make a change. The first step is to broach the subject with the person(s) creating the hostile environment. It’s possible that the person doesn’t realize his/her comments, behaviors, or actions are offensive to others in the workplace. If you feel too afraid to make this request, go to human resources with your complaint. It is critical that there be a record of reporting the problem before you seek help from the EEOC or an attorney. Keep a record of your HR reports and of any incidents involving things that make your workplace uncomfortable or intolerable, such as:
- Sexual harassment or abuse
- Offensive communications (i.e. emails, text messages, voicemails)
- Unwelcome harassment related to sex, gender, race, age, or disability
- Offensive jokes or slurs
- Physical threats or assaults
- Ridicule, insults, or mockery
- Offensive images or objects
- Interference with work performance
Minor slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents will likely not rise to the level of being illegal or a hostile work environment. Reasonable people must find the workspace offensive, intimidating, or otherwise hostile. The EEOC looks at circumstances such as how frequently the offensive conduct occurred, whether the victim belongs to a protected class, whether the employer knew of the situation and failed to take action, and whether the harassment involved threats to change the status of employment, when ruling on whether or not a workplace is hostile.
When Can You File a Civil Claim?
The financial consequences of a hostile work environment can make it impossible for employees to thrive. An employee may face demotions, lost promotion opportunities, missed time at work, or even dismissal. In some cases, a superior may retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment or another incident, making pay cuts or purposely excluding the employee from workplace decisions and activities. This is illegal and can entitle the employee to damages against the superior and/or the entire company.
While some factors, such as sexual harassment, fall under the category of a criminal wrong, victims can file civil claims to pursue compensation for their harms. This can include monetary awards for physical injuries, mental or emotional damage, psychological trauma, and financial damages. A civil claim may be the only way to receive monetary compensation for harms suffered in a hostile work environment. It can also serve to punish the harassers and incite a positive change at your place of employment.
When considering a hostile work environment claim, the attorneys at Powers Injury Law will interpret all the elements the EEOC looks at as well as the harm the victim has suffered. We will get to know you on a personal level, developing a relationship and getting to the source of your damages. If we believe you have grounds to file a civil lawsuit against a coworker, superior, and/or company, we will take steps to file your claim as quickly as possible. To learn more about your individual case, contact us online or call (205) 582-2723. We will schedule your free consultation according to your needs and at your convenience.