Legal Services

Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

It is our philosophy that everyone has a shared responsibility in making a healthy workplace. Each situation is unique and the approach varies depending on the specific circumstances. Restoring the workplace requires leadership commitment, and intentional, sustained efforts to change the culture of a work team or organization.

Harassment can take many different forms. For example, it can include the use of derogatory or offensive comments and jokes, stereotypes, names and other behavior that is insulting or derogatory. It also can include assigning you work that is undesirable or inconsistent with your job title and experience, such as assigning you to perform menial tasks without justification.

Yet another common form of harassment is threatening and intimidating behavior, such as unwarranted yelling or threats of physical violence. Many other types of negative conduct can be part of a hostile work environment if it is directed at you because of your age, gender, race, disability or the fact that you are in another legally protected category. A "hostile work environment" is created when the environment becomes hostile to members of a protected class. A mean, unfair boss has done nothing illegal if they are equally mean to all types of people.

Many employees who have been subjected to work place harassment or a hostile work environment often feel that ignoring or minimizing the wrongdoing is easier than taking action. In our experience, this can be a serious mistake. Instead, immediate action may be required to protect yourself and to prevent any escalation in the behavior which is important for the employer too. We can help our clients understand the potential benefits and costs of responding to threats, or harassment.

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