Most people spend a significant amount of their lives in the workplace. When a work setting is hostile, morale suffers, staff are less productive, and turnover is increased. Signs of a well-managed workplace are good communication, fair treatment, and strong human resources procedures in place to address work or interpersonal conflicts. Yet, as any employee knows, it is not uncommon to have conflicts, power struggles, and simply rude and unpleasant behavior in any industry. However, employees should be aware of behavior in the workplace that may rise to illegal workplace harassment and what steps to take.
Human conflict is a fact of life that we all deal with; the workplace is no exception. Human resources managers can attest that no workplace is free of interpersonal conflict or disputes among employees or between employees and management. Office gossip and cliques, rudeness, and conflicts are draining and result in stress and anxiety for employees. It is when the conflict rises to the level of prohibited activities that it becomes a legal issue.
If hostile actions or comments are based on an employee’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, age, gender, or other protected classification, then it is a violation of federal civil rights law. If the conduct continues over time and affects the employee’s ability to perform their job, it should be reported through company procedures to address the situation. Another type of hostile work environment can be created by sexual harassment. This can include jokes, remarks, intimidation, pressure for sexual favors, and other activities. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of the law and employees are protected under federal and state laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination on the job, and claims are investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
A hostile workplace can also be created when an employee is threatened by a manager or supervisor. Situations can include pressure on an employee to do something unethical or illegal, or threatening an employee who reports a workplace safety issue. Whistleblowers who report employment safety violations are also protected from threats and retaliation under several federal laws.
For a worker who is experiencing what they believe to be a hostile work environment in one of these categories, it is critical to consult with an experienced employment lawyer. It is always recommended for employees to follow company practices and report and document the incidents to human resources or management. Unfortunately, management does not always do the right thing and follow the law. Therefore, experienced legal advice is key to ensuring your rights are protected.
If you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, a Long Branch employment lawyer at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. can help. We will fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us today at 732-493-9400 or complete our online form.
Located in Eatontown, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Asbury Park, Neptune, Long Branch, Keansburg, Ocean Township, Eatontown, Red Bank, Middletown, Colts Neck, Deal, Freehold, Holmdel, Jackson, Little Silver, Marlboro, and Rumson.