For some people, going to work each day is like stepping onto a battlefield. Harassment from coworkers or managers and an overall hostile work environment can derail your career while taking a considerable toll on your health and wellbeing. Certain types of practices, which are prohibited by state and federal laws, could entitle you to file a lawsuit against your employers, particularly if they have not established policies in place to address your grievances.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment may be one in which you are discriminated against on the basis of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or religion, or it may be one in which fundamentally unfair policies and practices are allowed to flourish. This could include any of the following:
• Requiring employees to engage in immoral or illegal activities, including discriminatory hiring and firing practices
• Differences in what employees are paid, based on factors other than their job and experience
• Biases in how employees are treated, such as singling out an employee for bullying or other mistreatment
• Making inappropriate jokes that are either offensive or at another’s expense
• Refusing to honor stated company policies, and intimidating or taking revenge on anyone who complains
Under the law, employers must have an employee grievance process to handle all of the above types of claims. If you are fired, demoted, excluded from benefits, or not hired as the result of practices that violate state and federal laws or the company policies, you could be entitled to immediate reinstatement and reimbursement of lost wages and benefits, in addition to compensation for any injuries or medical costs you incurred as a result. If an employer willfully fails to restore an employee after a ruling in their favor, they could end up having to pay three times the amount of any lost wages and benefits the employee suffered.
Filing a Grievance
The law requires all employers to have an effective anti-harassment policy in place to prevent hostile work environments. This should include the following:
• A clear and easy to understand written policy concerning anti-harassment policies in the workplace;
• Training for both supervisors and managers;
• Policies regarding responding to and resolving complaints;
• Policies regarding fair and efficient incident investigations;
• Policies concerning remedial actions when an investigation has determined a hostile work environment or harassment has occurred.
If you are facing this type of situation on the job, it is important to realize you do not have to endure it alone. Consider contacting an employment discrimination lawyer to assist you with your possible case and lawsuit and to go over the details with you.