Harassment & Hostile Work Environment
Representation from a Seattle Employment Law Attorney
No one should have to fear workplace harassment or a hostile work environment. When workplace harassment occurs, we are here to hold companies accountable. It is an employer's obligation to maintain a workplace free of harassment based on an employee's membership in a protected classification or due to legally protected activities.
The law considers harassment and hostile work environment claims to be a form of discrimination. Unlawful harassment can take place in many forms – sexual, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, or nationality, among others. Workplace harassment may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Washington Law against Discrimination. A hostile environment does not have to be directed at you personally to violate your legal rights. Co-workers affected by the unlawful harassment have legal claims as much as do the direct targets.
Many companies require employees to undergo sexual harassment training; however, even with this training, harassment may still take place. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone. The harasser can be a coworker, supervisor, manager or even a non-employee. Sexual harassment can occur between people of the same gender or different genders, between people of the same sexual orientation or different orientations. Some of the most common sexual harassment complaints include:
- Unwanted physical contact with another person
- Comments about a person's looks
- Requesting of sexual favors for promotions, pay, benefits, and other rewards
Not every bad, abusive or stressful work environment is illegal. To establish grounds for a case of hostile work environment, you must show the following:
- The harassment lasted over an extended period of time or was severe.
- The harassment was unwelcome.
- The harassment made it harder for you to do your job or otherwise negatively affected your workplace.
- The actions were discriminatory toward a person's age, disability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or other legally protected characteristic.
- In some cases, you must prove that management knew or should have known about the harassment but failed to take effective steps to stop it. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to start out by complaining to your human resources department.
At Frank Freed Subit & Thomas, we understand that being subjected to a hostile work environment can sap your spirit, hinder your job performance, or even make you feel emotionally or physically traumatized. You are not alone and we are here to help. Our goal will be to stop the immediate harassment and preserve your employment. We also have extensive experience litigating such claims in court. If you think that you may have grounds for a lawsuit based on illegal harassment, or if you have questions about how to handle a hostile work environment, contact Frank Freed Subit & Thomas.