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What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?

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What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?

Under California law, a hostile work environment is defined as a workplace where sexual harassment is severe and compromises the employee’s work-related duties and safety. Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination that can look different depending on the situation. In order to constitute a hostile work environment in California, the harassment must be significant to the point that the victim feels threatened. 

Speaking up about facing sexual harassment in the workplace is no easy feat, but with an attorney at your side, you can seek compensation for your suffering. The Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro is prepared to build a solid case in your favor and work towards damages for the harassment you’ve experienced. Call today to discuss your individual situation. 

California’s Definition of a Hostile Work Environment

When filing a lawsuit for a hostile workplace environment, the court generally considers several key provisions:

  • Whether the harassment was based on a protected characteristic, including gender, race or age
  • The severity of the harassment or level of physical threat 
  • How frequently it occurred
  • Any witnesses to the harassment
  • If the incidences were reported to management and the employer’s response
  • Whether the harassment affected the victim’s work performance

The court carefully considers the degree and frequency of harassment in a lawsuit. Even if a work environment is unpleasant or sub-par, it may not be considered a hostile environment in California if the level of threat isn’t high enough. 

Proving a Hostile Work Environment

If you’ve witnessed or have been the victim of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment in a hostile work environment, there are several steps you must take in order to prove your case: 

  • Report the incident to your employer at the earliest opportunity. Typically, management can take steps to stop the discrimination or harassment and ensure it does not continue. 
  • Keep detailed notes of the event and the date you reported the incident, as well as your management’s response. This record can be used in your favor if your employer fails to take suitable action. 
  • If you’ve reported the harassment and the hostility continues, gather witnesses to determine if they’ve seen or experienced any of the behavior themselves. Witnesses are often a key part of a successful case, as they can attest to the inappropriate behavior’s frequency and severity. 
  • If you’ve pursued solutions with your employer, and the harassment continues, it is time to seek legal assistance. Talk to our attorney for guidance through the process of filing for damages. 

Keep in mind that workplace retaliation is illegal under California law, so your employer cannot treat you unfairly for reporting workplace harassment. The actions you take following your report can significantly influence your case’s outcome, and an attorney can ensure that each decision counts. 

Visit a Workplace Harassment Attorney Right Away

If you’ve experienced workplace harassment, act right away to prove your case. Begin collecting evidence to support your claim and seek compensation with dependable legal assistance provided by the Law Office of Jeannette A. Vaccaro. Our attorney is available for a consultation where you can discuss your situation and review all available options. 

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