What is a Hostile Work Environment?

California recognizes two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo harassment and a hostile work environment claim. As an employee, it is critical that you are fully informed about what constitutes a hostile work environment and what legal options you have if you are exposed to this type of harassment while at work. To learn more, schedule a consultation with an experienced California employment law attorney in your area today.

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, innuendos, or offensive language related to their gender that is severe and pervasive. It must be so constant and pervasive that it creates a workplace that is hostile and abusive. The behavior must also be specifically directed at the gender or sex of the targeted employee. The hostile behavior does not have to come from a supervisor and can be created by an employee at the same level of the victim or even a subordinate employee in the workplace.  

Normally, a single instance of this type of sexual harassment is not enough to warrant a hostile work environment claim unless the behavior is extreme. The more repeated the behavior, the more likely that a hostile work environment exists. A hostile work environment claim can also exist for employees who are not the target of the behavior if the conduct is so pervasive and severe that it is impacting other employees’ work environments. This is particularly true if the employee is of the same gender or identifying characteristic as the targeted worker.

Steps to Take After Being Sexually Harassed

After being subjected to a hostile work environment, there are some steps that you should take as an employee to protect your job and your claim. Report the behavior to a supervisor or the human resources department at your workplace. It is important to create documentation about the instances of abuse that you have suffered while at work. You should report every incident, as a hostile work environment claim requires pervasive behavior and multiple instances of misconduct.

You should also keep a record of all instances of hostile work environment behavior as well as a list of anyone who has witnessed this behavior in the workplace. This information can corroborate any documentation created by the human resources department and may be incredibly helpful to an attorney that takes on your case. Finally, you should reach out to a knowledgeable California employment law attorney to discuss the details of your case and determine if you have an actionable claim for a hostile work environment.

Call or Contact a Lawyer Now

You are entitled to a workplace that is safe and free of harassment by your superiors and fellow employees. If you or someone you know has been subjected to a hostile work environment as an employee in California, call or contact a knowledgeable employment law attorney in your area today.