What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

Our San Diego Employment Lawyer Explains

Workplace sexual harassment generally takes two forms. For some workers, a supervisor may offer a promotion or threaten to terminate a position unless sexual favors are performed. This scenario is an example of “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. In other cases, sexual harassment may be so pervasive and extreme that a workplace turns hostile. Hostile workplaces may also result from persistent sexual harassment or general workplace harassment. Both quid pro quo and hostile workplace sexual harassment are illegal.

Our San Diego employment lawyer can answer any questions you have about sexual harassment. Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes a hostile work environment in California.

What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?

You should speak with an employment law attorney if you believe your current or former employer created a hostile work environment. Whether your situation qualifies as a “hostile work environment” or hostile workplace depends on the circumstances. An attorney can tell you for sure.

A hostile work environment does not always involve sexual harassment. This type of harassment can target a person for their race, national origin or religious beliefs – just to name a few examples.

A work environment may qualify as a hostile workplace in instances where:

  1. The harassment involves targeting a person because of a protected characteristic (race, gender, national origin, etc);
  2. The harassment is pervasive or severe.

California law defines more than a dozen protected characteristics, including religion, race, national origin, sex, gender, age, gender identity, gender expression, disability status or veterans’ status.

What Are Examples of a Hostile Work Environment?

If you believe your employer is guilty of creating a hostile work environment, then you could speak with our San Diego employment law attorney at no cost. However, possible examples of a hostile work environment may include:

  • Frequent abusive comments or comments of a sexual nature;
  • Spreading persistent rumors about someone;
  • Frequent abusive text messages, emails or voicemails;
  • Racist or discriminatory behavior;
  • Frequent mocking or teasing.

Can I Sue for a Hostile Work Environment?

It depends on the circumstances. You should speak with a San Diego employment law attorney before beginning any step in the claims process, including filing a claim with the EEOC or California DFEH.

Sexual harassment and workplace discrimination are against the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). You could file an employment law violation claim with the DFEH or the EEOC, and they may opt to investigate the merits of the claim. However, you can begin working with an attorney before you even begin the claims process. An attorney can help you compile and protect evidence that pertains to your claim. If necessary, an employment law attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.

During a free consultation, attorney Evan Gould can walk you through your possible legal options for holding your employer or former employer accountable. You can schedule a free consultation with us by dialing (619) 941-0667 or by using the contact form on our site.

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