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The hostile work environment lawyers at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. are dedicated to employee rights. If you have experienced severe or pervasive harassment or discriminatory conduct in the workplace, you need to know that you have rights under Florida and federal law that protects you and serve to hold people accountable for their unlawful behavior.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
“Hostile work environment” is a term which describes a workplace where an employee (or group of employees) is subject to discrimination, offensive comments, bullying or unwanted sexual advances — creating an oppressive, intimidating atmosphere where the employee may be even fearful to go to work because of the behavior of the harasser. In order for the hostile work environment to give rise to legal claims against the employer, the hostility to which we refer must be based on a protected class or activity, such as race discrimination, or complaints about safety. In other words, not every hostile act will support a legal claim against the employer.
The person(s) causing the hostile work environment can be a direct supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, an agent/contractor of the employer, or a non-employee. Not all abusive behavior is covered under employment law, but much of it is. Hostile work environment laws typically cover workplace discrimination or harassment due to:
- Sex, Gender, Race, or Age
- Religious Affiliation
- Sexual Harassment
- Workers’ Compensation Claim Filing
If you are suffering in a hostile work environment because your employer has engaged in discrimination on any of the basis listed above, it is essential to know that you have legal protections.
What Are the Workplace Harassment and Bullying Laws That Provide Protection for Employees?
Multiple laws are in place to protect employees just like you. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “harassment is a form of discrimination.” The EEOC is in charge of administering several federal laws for employee rights including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
In addition, employee rights attorneys in Florida may assert violations of the Florida Civil Rights Act. Depending on the situation, violations of either state law or federal law (or both) can support a hostile work environment claim. Individuals who feel like their rights have been violated should consult with an experienced hostile work environment lawyer to determine their best legal options.
How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment and Workplace Harassment?
There are a number of types of offensive conduct that can be “actionable” and rise to the level of intimidating and hostile. This can include such behavior as:
- Physical Conduct — physical assaults, indecent gestures, contact/touching/advances of a sexual nature
- Verbal Conduct — name calling, threats, slurs, insulting jokes, discussing sexual activities, or intimidation
The above behaviors violate the law when they are 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.
Sometimes, a single act can constitute a hostile work environment and give rise to a valid claim, but for the most part, to prove that your work environment is considered hostile under the law, the offensive, harassing behavior will have occurred over a certain period of time and be severe in nature from the perspective of a reasonable person.
If you have any kind of documentation of harassing language or actions, such as emails, voicemail recordings, notes, texts, letters, reports, or otherwise, it is important to keep them for your case and can help to prove your claim. Texts may be the key to a successful case and are very hard to retrieve from most mobile phone carriers. Preserving the actual texts in a form that can be used as evidence (showing full text, date, time, number) is important. You should take steps to download texts, or save them with apps available for that purpose, and safeguard the actual phone. Documenting everything that you can including the date, time, what happened and where it happened goes a long way to help prove that a hostile work environment occurred.
Have you been retaliated against for reporting or trying to stop harassment or discrimination? It is not uncommon for people to get fired, demoted, passed over for a promotion, given bad work schedules, or other types of retaliation for opposing (complaining to management or Human Resources for example) about an unlawful activity such as discrimination against others. You may be entitled to back pay or other damages related to the retaliation.
You don’t have to deal with this alone. We are here for you to secure justice on your behalf.
It’s time to take action.
Stop Harassment & Discrimination in the Workplace
If you are currently experiencing what you feel to be a hostile work environment due to sexual harassment, race discrimination, age discrimination, or otherwise, know you have the right to tell the harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and offensive and they must stop immediately.
Employers and managers who single out a specific employee or certain staff members to harass or demean must be stopped and held accountable for their illegal actions. Like wrongful termination, a hostile work environment violates the rights of employees and takes many forms.
Do not tolerate a work environment infused with hostility or inappropriateness. Victims of workplace harassment or discrimination must take immediate action. Hostile workplaces and fear of retaliation impact an employee’s morale and productivity. It can also affect your career, cause stress, and impact you and your family’s life financially and personally.
Protect Your Rights. Contact a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Today!
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we remain by your side throughout the entire process of filing and litigating a hostile work environment claim. Following your free initial consultation, we take immediate action in getting to know the facts of your case. We help employees make great legal decisions.
Your employer has a lawyer and you should too. Getting justice in the workplace and helping employees dealing with a hostile work environment hold employers accountable for violating your rights is our mission.
We have helped thousands of other people just like you and are highly knowledgeable about hostile work environment laws — working diligently and aggressively to fight for your rights and hold people accountable for their unlawful behaviors. We 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.
Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation. Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., is the employee’s law firm— a tireless legal team fighting for your rights in Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Sarasota St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville.