What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
Sexual harassment can be based on a hostile work environment, but what makes the work environment hostile?
Hostile and Abusive Conduct in Work Environment
Harassing behavior includes physical and visual conduct. It can also be verbal conduct, such as epithets, slurs, or derogatory comments. The conduct is harassing if it communicates an offensive or abusive message to the harassed employee because of sex or gender. The harassing conduct must also be severe or pervasive such that it creates an intolerable work environment for the harassed employee.
Conduct Directed at Others Can Create a Hostile Work Environment
Hostile or abusive conduct towards other employees can create a hostile work environment for you. A harasser may treat all members of a protected group (e.g. women) negatively. The harasser’s behavior towards other women may contribute to one woman’s feeling that the work environment is hostile or abusive. That is because people are affected by what happens around them.
In the case of Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 1128; 74 Cal.Rptr.2d 510 (of which Founding Attorney Larry Organ was counsel of record), the court decided that sexual harassment toward other employees can demonstrate a hostile work environment.
Employers Must End Harassing Conduct They Know About
As soon as an employer become aware of harassment, it must take action immediately to put an end to the conduct. Employers are also required to take corrective action in order to prevent future harassment from occurring. This is because prompt employer intervention not only minimizes injury to the victim, but it also sends a clear message throughout the workplace that harassing conduct is not tolerated.
We Prosecute Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
If you are not sure whether you need a sexual harassment lawyer, let us help you decide. Call us at one of our offices in the San Francisco Bay Area at (415) 453-4740 or (510) 978-4880, or contact us for a free consultation. With offices in Oakland and San Anselmo, we are conveniently located for employees living in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Alameda and San Francisco Counties.