Austin Hostile Work Environment Attorney
No worker should ever have to face abuse or mistreatment in the workplace. Sadly, it is far too common for employers to allow or even encourage abusive or discriminatory treatment of disfavored employees to take place. This type of hostile work environment can be extraordinarily damaging to the well-being of workers, and can even make it impossible for some to continue to maintain their employment.
A hostile work environment is something that should never be allowed to develop or persist, and those who are responsible for creating these types of conditions need to be held accountable. Sadly, many people in Austin are forced to work in a hostile work environment, as our team at The Melton Law Firm, is well aware. However, with the help of a skilled lawyer, many victims of this kind of work environment are able to get the just treatment and recompense they deserve.
The Basis of Hostile Work Environment Claims
There are many reasons why a worker might feel threatened or otherwise mistreated in their work environment. However, some of the most common factors that contribute to a hostile work environment include:
If you are subjected to a hostile work environment as a result of these factors, you should consider filing a lawsuit against your employer and/or other parties responsible for it. By taking such action, you may be able to get much-needed justice and compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Situations can vary wildly from workplace to workplace, and hostility can be very personal and alienating. It may bring you some comfort to know that many of our clients who have experienced workplace hostility or harassment have many similar questions. Please reach out to us at (512) 330-0017 for additional questions you have.
How do I recognize a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is one in which an employee is targeted with comments or conduct based on their age, race, gender, national origin, or disability. However, not all negative activity in a workplace that affects someone is an example of a hostile work environment. A second, very important factor must be present: a causal relationship between the characteristic of the individual and an act, such as firing or demotion. In the case of certain comments, for example, there must be clear evidence of a persistent pattern in which an individual is targeted and singled out because of any particular characteristic. If all members are equally treated poorly, this is not an example of a hostile work environment.
Although these characteristics are often assumed to be related to minorities, anyone and everyone can be a victim of a hostile work environment. It is also important to point out that anyone can create a hostile work environment, not just a boss.
How can a hostile work environment affect my colleagues and me?
If someone is creating a hostile work environment for one or more employees, there are obvious ramifications for that or those individuals. Their quality and efficiency of work may decrease, and any future contributions may be jeopardized. In addition, those who experience the abuse secondhand may also feel offended or intimidated, which may affect their work.
Any workplace where some members of the company feel discriminated against is certain to be inefficient while also being an extremely unfair and unpleasant place to work.
What are the legal requirements for pursuing a lawsuit related to a hostile work environment?
For there to be a legal case against a company for a hostile work environment, several things must be true:
- First, an employee must have been targeted for their race, age, gender, national origin, or disability.
- Second, the targeting must have taken place over a long period of time. A single bad joke does not count.
- Third, the targeting must be pervasive, or in other words, it must be constant and all around.
- Fourth, the targeting must be severe, in the sense it either effects the employee’s career path or severally affects their ability to work.
- Fifth, it must be likely that the business knew about these comments or activities and did nothing.
All five points must be true in order to proceed legally. If you are uncertain whether your case meets all these points, consult an attorney for more advice.
Who should I talk to if I find myself in a hostile work environment?
As mentioned directly above, if you suspect you, someone you work with, or someone you know is experiencing a hostile work environment, it is important to contact a lawyer for more advice. However, if you are uncomfortable taking that step upfront, you can consider a few other less aggressive steps.
In the first place, you could confront the offending party. By speaking directly and voicing your complaints, you may be able to resolve the issue without more severe repercussions.
A second option is to speak to your company’s HR department. They are likely to have the resources to deal with the situation, whether through a mediated meeting or through directly contacting and speaking with the offending party. If you are nervous about speaking to the offender (if, say, they are your boss), this may be a positive first step.
A final and more drastic choice would be to resign on terms that are as good as possible and simply move on to another job. This is never an easy choice, and is sometimes an impossible one, depending on your job and career prospects. However, if your job feels unbearable, it is an option.
At any point along this list of options, however, it is possible to contact a lawyer and proceed with a case.
How can I protect myself if I report discrimination?
For those who don’t intend to leave their job, it can be important to protect themselves from the repercussions of speaking up and pursuing a hostile work environment case. Perhaps the main reason people choose not to come forward with such cases is because of the fear of being penalized at work.
The good news is that you are protected from adverse consequences from your employer due to speaking up. Even if a lawsuit goes forward, you cannot legally be fired. That does not mean you cannot be fired for other reasons, but your employer must prove that such a choice was unrelated to your choice to pursue a lawsuit.
What evidence should I collect to prove my workplace is hostile?
Collecting evidence is often a difficult task when it comes to proving a hostile work environment. Because the discrimination taking place is often verbal, it can be difficult to prove it took place. Thankfully, there are several ways to get around this.
First, you should make a record of all your communications with the person doing the discrimination. Save all emails, texts, and other written communication. If the person leaves voice mails, save those. You can also begin to keep a detailed written record of all the instances when discrimination takes place.
Second, keep a record of any communication with the HR department at your business. Maintain all proof of when you first communicated the issue and any followups you made to find out what was being done.
Third, you should look for witnesses who have seen the discrimination taking place. If anyone else in the office can corroborate your story, you are more likely to be believed later.
Fourth, keep track of any evidence of negative actions taken against you that may be discrimination related. Keep all communication about explanations for missed promotions and all your performance reviews.
Finally, make a point of keeping track of any correspondence in which you share details of the discrimination taking place with those outside the business. Also, hold on to any documents that prove you have looked for outside assistance, whether from lawyers or psychiatrists or others.
Contact a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer in Austin
Our determined legal team at The Melton Law Firm, knows how to effectively represent the needs and interests of workers and to hold employers accountable for their actions. We believe no one should have to deal with the consequences of a hostile work environment on their own and are here to provide the support and guidance you need. Call (512) 330-0017 if you have suffered from the effects of a hostile work environment.