If you dread going to work every day, and feel harassed, discriminated against, or victimized in any way, you may be experiencing a hostile work environment. Sometimes, this “feeling” is hard to put into words, but there are definite signs that certain “boundaries” have been crossed and you are being victimized.
All of these actions can create a hostile work environment if they’re happening consistently, on purpose, or in a single incident, if they’re severe enough.
Arkansas and federal law defines an unlawful work environment as one in which a superior’s or coworker’s communication, behavior, or actions toward you are offensive, intimating, or discriminating based on gender, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.
Most Arkansas employment law attorneys know that you may have difficulty proving or documenting this type of behavior, but there are questions you must ask yourself, such as:
- What are the signs of a hostile work environment at my job?
- What type of conduct am I experiencing that is ‘unwelcome’?
- What is the severity or frequency of the unwelcome conduct or action that I feel?
- How can I document to my fellow workers and superiors that I genuinely feel scared or intimidated instead of just being unsatisfied with my job?
Answering these questions will help your employment lawyer determine if your experiences qualify as a hostile work environment. However, it legally does not necessarily mean that your employer will worry about hostility or legal complaints and make any changes.
A toxic, uncomfortable, and intimidating workplace has specific characteristics that legally may make it a hostile work environment.
For example, employees may be showing signs of “burnout,” co-workers are constantly arguing, and workers consistently complain that they are not appreciated, underpaid, and overworked.
Other signs of job dissatisfaction may be a lack of resources, absenteeism, job insecurity because of layoffs, etc.
In any hostile work environment, you will usually see employees exhibiting apprehension, fear, and official complaints to HR about discrimination, sexual harassment, and diverse types of bullying.
These hostile actions you experience are not always easy to prove, and your Arkansas employment lawyer is fully aware of that fact. However, your lawyer has worked on these cases before and will know how to help you determine what to do and how to do it.
What Are Specific Behaviors That Are Present In a Hostile Workplace?
After diagnosing many types of hostile workplace cases, there are some behaviors you can look for, such as:
- Sexual/racial harassment – These two types of behavior consistently produce a hostile work environment. People can’t spew vulgar remarks about gender, sexual orientation, or racial slurs and have a healthy, thriving workplace.
- Any discrimination – Certain managers may regularly refuse older, female, or foreign-born applicants. Not only is this type of behavior wrong, but it also always creates bias and fosters a hostile workplace. More importantly, in most states, it’s also a violation of the law.
- Consistent, aggressive behavior – If you are the victim of daily verbal (and worse, physical) abuse, It is a sign you are facing a hostile workplace and being victimized every day. Even ‘passive-aggressive” behavior, such as pushing coworkers or subordinates to unhealthy competition, is a red flag.
- Many complaints and threats of punishment – If co-workers are constantly filing complaints and supervisors consistently punish employees, something is wrong.
These are only some things that may point to a hostile work environment if looked for and noticed consistently. Your Little Rock or Jonesboro employment lawyer will know what may qualify for a hostile workplace environment and what you can do about it.
How Can My Lawyer and I Prove a Hostile or Toxic Work Environment?
Once again, proving these cases may seem daunting, but an employment lawyer with experience in these cases will know what to look for.
Some of the things that can help prove a hostile workplace are:
- A high turnover in personnel.
- A culture of “cronyism” that’s rampant.
- Inherent structural fear of reprisal.
- Constant gossiping and complaining.
- Odd employee behavior or body language.
- Lack of trust between co-workers and lack of confidence in their leadership.
All these things and even a “gut “ feeling should not be ignored. In today’s workplace, no employee must endure harmful and toxic behavior. If you notice these things and feel victimized, consult your Arkansas employment lawyer for the legal guidance you need.
What Recourse Do I Have Against a Hostile Workplace?
If you are the victim of a hostile work environment, you may feel hesitant to file a complaint for many reasons. Your employer has better resources than you, and you could lose your job, but neither is a reason to put up with the mental (and physical) harm that a hostile workplace can inflict on you.
You can start with some or all of the following to remedy the situation:
- Check with your human resources department about your employer’s workplace policy on unfair treatment.
- Consider discussing the situation with the person(s) involved.
- Raise the matter informally with your supervisor.
- Making a formal complaint about unfair treatment at work and the hostile environment.
- Escalating the case to a charge or civil suit with a qualified employment law attorney.
You must note that there are many ways to approach this issue, starting within your company, proceeding to government and federal agencies, and obtaining the professional help of a respected, empathetic, and thorough Little Rock employment lawyer.
What you don’t want to do is continue to “put up” with hostile or workplace conditions that harm you, your co-workers, and your civil rights.
I Feel That I’m Working in a Hostile Workplace; How Should I Proceed?
Unfair treatment at work and working in a hostile work environment will inevitably bring up or touch upon sensitive and very emotional issues. This often can result in emotional stress and complications, but so can doing nothing about the situation. Consulting with a Little Rock or Fayetteville employment lawyer will allow you to obtain legal advice before filing a suit against your employer.
Your experienced employment lawyer has the knowledge and guidance you require to help you understand your situation and assist with your complaint to your employer or In filing a civil lawsuit.
It may not be easy, but it’s never the right decision to continue to struggle in a hostile workplace or have your civil rights violated.