Workplace harassment is a serious issue that affects millions of workers in the United States. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were 26,632 charges of workplace harassment filed in fiscal year 2020, accounting for 30.3% of all discrimination charges. Of these, 16,992 charges involved allegations of harassment based on sex, race, national origin, age, disability, or religion.
One of the most common types of workplace harassment is hostile work environment harassment, which occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome and offensive conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with their work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment.
As such, hostile work environment harassment can be perpetrated by anyone in the workplace, such as supervisors, co-workers, clients, or customers.
If you’ve experienced or witnessed hostile work environment harassment, you may have a legal claim against your employer which is why we strongly encourage you to reach out to our San Diego hostile work environment lawyers. However, not every unpleasant or rude behavior constitutes hostile work environment harassment. There are certain legal elements and standards that you need to prove in order to succeed in your claim.
That’s why, in this piece, our hostile work environment attorneys will explain what you need to know about hostile work environment claims and how HHJ Trial Attorneys can help you with your case.
Table of Contents
What Are the Legal Elements of a Hostile Work Environment Claim?
To establish a hostile work environment claim, you need to prove the following elements:
- The harassment was based on protected characteristics, such as sex, race, national origin, age, disability, or religion. This means that the harassment was motivated by or related to your membership in a protected class and not by other factors, such as personality conflicts or personal animosity.
- The harassment was unwelcome, meaning that you did not solicit or invite the conduct and that you indicated that the conduct was offensive or undesirable.
- The harassment was severe or pervasive, meaning that the conduct was either extremely offensive or frequent enough to alter the conditions of your employment and create a hostile work environment. This is determined by looking at the totality of the circumstances, such as the frequency, duration, severity, and nature of the conduct, the context in which it occurred, and the effect it had on you and your work.
- The harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of your employment, meaning that the conduct interfered with your work performance, deprived you of job opportunities, or subjected you to adverse employment actions, such as demotion, termination, or retaliation.
You must prove that your employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.
This means that you reported the harassment to your employer, or that the harassment was so obvious or widespread that your employer should have been aware of it, and that your employer did not take reasonable steps to stop the harassment or prevent it from recurring.
How Does California Law Protect You From Hostile Work Environment Harassment?
California law protects workers who suffer from hostile work environment harassment. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), you have the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment based on any of the following characteristics:
- Race, color, ancestry, or national origin
- Religion or creed
- Sex, gender, gender identity, or gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status or familial status
- Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions
- Age (over 40)
- Disability (physical, mental, or perceived)
- Medical condition, genetic information, or AIDS/HIV status
- Military or veteran status
FEHA also prohibits harassment based on any other characteristic protected by federal or state law. FEHA applies to employers with five or more employees and covers all types of workers, such as employees, applicants, interns, volunteers, contractors, or temporary workers.
Finally, FEHA also provides several remedies for victims of hostile work environment harassment, such as:
- Compensatory damages, such as lost wages, benefits, or emotional distress
- Punitive damages, which are meant to punish the employer and deter future misconduct
- Injunctive relief, which is a court order that requires the employer to stop the harassment or take other corrective actions
Attorney’s fees and costs, which are awarded to the prevailing party in a lawsuit, may also be awarded to you should you win your case.
How Can HHJ Trial Attorneys Help You With Your Hostile Work Environment Claim?
If you’ve suffered from hostile harassment in your work environment, you need an experienced and aggressive legal team to fight for your rights and interests.
HHJ Trial Attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle any hostile work environment claim. We will:
- Conduct a thorough investigation of your case and gather evidence to support your claim
- Negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to seek a fair and favorable settlement
- File a lawsuit and represent you in court if a settlement cannot be reached
- Advocate for your best interests and seek the maximum compensation and justice that you deserve
We have a proven track record of success in handling hostile work environment claims, recovering millions of dollars for our clients and earning a reputation for excellence and integrity. We’re committed to providing you with personalized and compassionate service and keeping you informed throughout the process.
Don’t let hostile work environment harassment get in the way of your career. Contact HHJ Trial Attorneys today and get the legal representation that you need.