What is a Hostile Work Environment?

Many people have work colleagues they find offensive or work conditions they do not enjoy. However, when someone has to endure offensive or unwelcome discriminatory behavior that makes them feel scared or intimidated and disrupts their ability to work over a significant period, then another level has been reached that can be defined as a hostile work environment. The discriminatory and harassing behavior does not have to be directed at the person filing a complaint for hostile work environment. Anyone affected by the behavior in question has the right to protection and a safe workplace.

How are Employees in New Jersey Protected?

In addition to inflicting stress and emotional trauma, a hostile work environment can have negative financial impact on the worker being harassed. Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protect workers from discrimination. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits harassment against workers based on their race, color, sex, religion, age disability, national origin, gender identity, and other protected characteristics.

Proving Hostile Work Environment

It is difficult to say exactly when offensive behavior becomes illegal and definable as a hostile work environment. Each case is unique, and the court will consider factors such as how severe the harassment is and how frequent, if the employer knew about the situation and did nothing to stop it, and if the employee asked the harasser to stop but their plea was ignored.

Documentation is key to being able to prove a work environment is a hostile one. Employees should report any harassment to the human resources department so that there is a record of an official complaint. All inappropriate comments, emails, and texts should be documented. It is important to show that the employer or manager knew about the hostile situation; therefore, written records must be kept that detail every conversation or discussion where the problem was reported, including the date, time, and place. Witnesses to the unwelcome and offensive behavior can also provide their accounts as evidence. The employee should obtain witnesses’ contact information and ask for a written statement of what they experienced.

Filing a Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency charged with enforcing the laws related to hostile work environments. Employees with complaints may file charges with the EEOC within 180 days of the incident. Not every unfair work situation qualifies as a hostile work environment. It must be shown that the harassment or abuse was pervasive, threatening, or humiliating and possibly interfered with the employee’s ability to do their job. An experienced employment lawyer can help determine the best course of legal action regarding the hostile workplace conditions.

Mount Laurel Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Fight for Employees’ Rights

If you are being harassed at work and find yourself in a hostile work environment, contact the skilled Mount Laurel employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. Our lawyers will investigate your case and fight to get you the justice and compensation you deserve. We will discuss the situation with you and lay out your best legal options. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.