You spend the majority of your time at work, so it should not be a place where you feel threatened or harassed. Unfortunately, many people face this type of treatment on a daily basis in their workplaces.
A hostile work environment is defined as an environment in which sustained harassment or discrimination become so acute that an employee feels he or she has no other choice but to resign to avoid the hostile treatment. There are federal laws that protect employees from this type of work environment. If you find yourself in this situation, you should explore your rights under the law. Here are three tips to help you take action against a hostile work environment:
1. Do not fear retaliation
Many employees who are suffering in a hostile work environment decide to "stick it out" and not take any action because they fear that if they speak up, they will suffer even greater problems with employer retaliation. Federal law protects employees from retaliation when they report harassment, so you should not let fear keep you from exposing the hostile work environment.
2. Do not hesitate to seek professional legal support
Workplace harassment and related claims are complex matters. The law protects you from workplace harassment as an employee, but you may need to get an attorney involved to help you define exactly what is going on at your workplace and how that behavior is classified under the law. It is best to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later. A lawyer's professional support can help you build a strong case and defense to protect your rights.
3. Document everything as extensively as possible
Document all the harrassing and discriminatory behaviors you are experiencing at work. This means keeping a written record of each incident you experience, recording it as soon as possible after it occurs. Write the date, time, place, and all the other pertinent details of the incident. Be sure you also save any communications that display harassment and discrimination, such as emails you have received or any other physical evidence that demonstrates the harassment or discrimination.
Although you may fear speaking up against a hostile work environment, a qualified attorney can help you move forward with your case. You are likely not the only one suffering from the harassing workplace behavior, so by standing up for your rights, you may also be helping other colleagues.