Do I Have the Right to Sue My Employer for a Hostile Work Environment?
For most employees, the workplace is already a stressful place to be in. If on top of that, the workplace has a hostile environment, then it can be incredibly difficult to work there. If you’re thinking of filing a lawsuit against your employer for a hostile work environment, you should first go through the information we’ve provided below to make a more informed decision.
Before you go ahead and lodge a complaint against your employer, you should have a basic understanding of what qualifies as a hostile work environment. Every employee has different tolerance levels when it comes to handling stress, and similarly, every employer has different ways of tackling such situations.
As an employee, you are rightfully entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer for a hostile work environment. But there is a difference between a normally stressful environment, and a legally hostile environment. There are a few circumstances that are required for the lawsuit to be relevant and effective.
Normal Stress in the Work Environment
There might be times when your employer asks you, or your work bounds you to, spend additional hours at work. Other similar situations can result in stress and physical or mental exhaustion. But as long as it occurs occasionally, it is regarded as normal workplace stress.
You might have to deal with difficult employers and coworkers, might not be granted the expected perks and benefits, feel upset, and overworked sometimes, but such situations do not count as hostile work environments.
However, if the workplace is causing physical and mental issues and is a source of harassment, discrimination, or intimidation, then it can qualify as a hostile environment. If the coworkers or employer is making an employee uncomfortable in office space, then it could be legally challenged.
Hostile Work Environment
Most workplaces can put employees under stress, but for it to be considered as a hostile environment there are certain legal criteria that it must meet, which include:
- Actions or conducts that discriminate against employees due to certain characteristics like gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, or disability, etc.
- Frequently occurring or prevalent acts of discrimination.
- The organization hasn’t taken action against the problem despite it being a significant one.
- Actions that might interfere with the victim’s work or job progress.
- Inaction or insufficient intervention from the employer regarding the hostile work environment.
Harassment in the workplace in every form is strictly prohibited by law.
Dealing with a Hostile Work Environment
The first step you should take when subject to a hostile work environment is to ask the offender to stop the action or behavior. You can also ask your employer or human resources for help with this matter. Most times, the notice is enough for the offender to stop such actions.
Next, you should file a complaint to your manager against the employee so they can investigate and take the required action. However, if the employer doesn’t resolve the issue, then you can proceed to file a lawsuit against the employer for inaction.