A hostile work environment is one defined as conduct between co-workers and management that is discriminatory in nature. To legally define one before a lawsuit can be filed involves meeting specific conditions. One of these conditions is that a person who files a lawsuit has to fall under a protected class defined under the laws of the state they work in. The protected classes include disabled individuals and who face discrimination due to their race. A legally binding complaint has to directly deal with discrimination of a particular class of people.
As fas as what constitutes a hostile work environment; it is when discriminatory actions take place on a regular basis. An isolated incident or two to does not count towards a lawsuit claiming a this type of environment. In order to claim a hostile work environment there must be a pattern in the behavior of the guilty party. The behavior has to be so severe that it disrupts the flow of the work day. For example, if a boss is intimidating one of their employees to the point that the employee thinks they are in danger of losing their job, this is considered to be a hostile work environment.
Civil Rights Act Of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not reference laws concerning this work environment on a Federal level but it does address all of the classes that are protected, such as religion, gender and ethnicity, as well as race, age and disability.
Equal Opportunity Commission
The EEOC is where people should turn if they feel they are the victim of a hostile work environment. Discrimination cases can be heard here as long as it is proved that there are reasonable grounds for filing the charge. From 1997 to 2006 close to half of the discrimination cases tried with the EEOC were dismissed because the claimaints were not able to prove they had reasonable grounds.
There are right ways and wrong ways to go about handling this type of working environment. The first step is for the issue to be addressed with the employee or employees who are behind the offense. It must be clearly established what the offense is that has been committed and specifically how it has been carried out. Both parties need to have a clear understanding of what the problem is.
In ideal working conditions, this hostility in the work environment disappears when the problem is first discussed with the offending party. However it is not always this easy to stop the discrimination. Continued discrimination should be documented and there should be a transcript of the conversation between the victim and the perpetrator.
If it continues and keeps causing hostility in the work place it is time for management and/or the HR department to step in and take control of the situation. They will need proof of the incident or incidents as well as the conversation transcript.
When HR or management stepping in does nothing to stop the discrimination it is time to take legal action. The victim must contact an employment attorney and begin building their case against the perpetrator.
Taking Legal Action
Over the last dozen years an increasing number of employees throughout the U.S. have been forced to take someone to court over discrimination in the work place. In many of these cases the discrimination comes in the form of sexual harrasment. It is not unusual for a company manager to be included in a sexual harrasment lawsuit brought on by an employee. Whether said manager was the one sexually harassing an employee or they did nothing to try and stop it they can end up heavily involved in this type of lawsuit. Managers that are aware that sexual discrimination is happening in the work environment and do nothing about it are often see as just as guilty as if they had been the one sexually harassing an employee.
The fact is, whether employers like it or not, they are obligated to ensure that no type of harrasment is taking place in their work environment and to take all the necessary steps to put and end to it when it does happen. An important step in avoiding the creation of a hostile work environment is for companies to thoroughly train their managers on what constitutes sexual harrasment and other problems that can contribute to this destructive environment.They also must be taught the correct ways for dealing with such issues in the workplace.
IT Managers Preventing Hostility In The Work Environment
A company’s IT managers can do a lot to help prevent a work environment seen as hostile. A great deal of harrasment is made possible via the Internet and IT managers are finding ways to cut down on this. Employees should not have to see offensive websites and pictures on their co-worker’s computer and keep quiet about it. This is why IT managers are stepping to make sure a company’s employees don’t use look at innapropriate images and websites while at work. Internet usage policies should be set and enforced by management in order to avoid a hostile environment. IT managers often place firewall protection on their company’s computers so that employees can’t access anything online that could lead to a sexual harrasment lawsuit.
To define hostile work environment many factors must be taken into consideration. Each of these factors must be dealt with quickly and effectively in order to avoid the problem as much as possible.