Hostile Work Environment – Know Your Rights
Free Consultation: If you feel as if you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, call to schedule a free legal consultation with Kevin Keaney, (503) 232-9280.
Not all work environments are pleasant or emotionally healthy, but they might not qualify legally as a “hostile work environment.”
In order to be legally considered a hostile work environment, an employment law must be broken, and the laws usually broken are: anti-discrimination laws (EEOC), harassment laws, and whistleblowing laws.
Anti-discrimination laws, which fall under the purview of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) protect people from discrimination for reasons involving: race, color, sex, religion, age (over 18 in Oregon), pregnancy, disability, and other protected classes or statuses. These employment laws apply not only to hiring and firing, but also to demotions, promotions, pay rates, and work assignments.
Hostile work environments are usually created as a kind of retaliation – for opposing illegal discrimination, for reporting an unsafe environment, for attempting to join or form a union, for getting injured on the job, for providing information regarding a boss’s or supervisor’s offensive behavior, or for other work-related issues. Common forms of retaliation include: discipline or probation, reduction in hours or wages, transfer to another location, or receiving a reassignment of duties.
Most hostile work environment claims are against bosses (owners, supervisors, or managers), but you can also make claims against your employer for harassment by a co-worker, if the company or organization was aware of the harassment and did nothing to prevent it or protect against it.
In general, the offensive behavior or discrimination needs to be severe and pervasive before the actions will constitute a hostile work environment.
If you believe you’re working in a hostile work environment, and it’s impacting your ability to work and/or your ability to receive pay raises or get a promotion, give us a call for your free legal consultation.
Kevin Keaney is licensed to practice in Oregon and Washington, as well as Texas, where he can also help nurses who need an attorney.