Unlawful workplace harassment occurs across industries, creating intolerable working conditions and affecting the lives of people every day. Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect employees from such actions.
If you, or someone you know, are dealing with an unlawful hostile work environment, there are steps you can take to protect your rights and help prove your case.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
Federal law (and Florida state law) protects individuals from harassment based on characteristics such as sex, age, race, religion, disability, and other categories or based on certain activities which are protected under the law, such as complaining about discrimination. A workplace is defined as “hostile” when an individual is harassed due to one of these characteristics or activities, so much that the environment is intimidating, offensive, or abusive. This conduct can be from your boss, co-workers, contractors, customers, or other individuals that you interact with on the job.
Examples of behaviors that can create an unlawful hostile work environment include:
- Discussing sexual activities
- Inappropriate touching and sexual advances
- Using demeaning terms or epithets
- Using indecent gestures or crude language
- Engaging in hostile physical conduct
- Telling off-color jokes based on a protected status like race, age, disability, or sex
The above behaviors violate the law when it is unwelcome and based on the victim’s protected status —in conjunction with the conduct being severe and pervasive enough that it would be considered hostile or abusive.
The Steps to Take in Florida to Prove a Hostile Work Environment
If this has happened or is currently happening to you, it is not your fault. You are not alone. Experienced employment law attorneys understand the complexities of the law and the detailed processes of filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Florida Commission on Human Relations(FCHR). If this illegal behavior is ongoing, you have a right to tell the harasser that it is unwelcome and must stop. Do this as soon as possible. Federal and State law protects people from being retaliated against for speaking up and reporting harassment.
If you have any documentation, such as emails with harassing language, jokes, etc., these can be used to help prove a hostile work environment. Have you written down dates or details of instances of sexual harassment or other hostile physical conduct or harassment? Make sure to keep this information safe. If you don’t have detailed documentation, it is still important to discuss your claim with an attorney.
Consult with a Respected Employment Law Attorney
Professionals in the field are here to help. Our labor and employment lawyers are highly respected among peers and have an outstanding reputation when it comes to litigation and securing the best resolution for clients.
If you feel you have been the victim of harassment and subjected to a hostile work environment, it is essential to contact an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., have extensive expertise in private negotiation, mediation and arbitration, and trial law in Florida courts. It is important and highly beneficial to your case to work with attorneys that understand the full complexities of the law when it comes to workplace justice.
Take Action to Stop Harassment and Receive Justice
We help employees who have been wronged by employers. Contact us today to request a free, confidential consultation. We’re the employee’s law firm— a tireless legal team fighting for your rights.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.