Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment exists where speech or conduct based on a protected characteristic creates an atmosphere that is abusive, hostile, or intimidating. A claim of harassment in the form of a hostile work environment can be based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) or Texas Labor Code Chapter 21. If you believe that you have been subjected to this type of situation, the Austin hostile work environment lawyers at Wiley Walsh, P.C. are here to provide legal counsel and representation. Seeking assistance from an employment discrimination attorney is important to protect your rights.Bringing a Claim Based on a Hostile Work Environment
The problematic behavior or words could include slurs, epithets, physical assaults, intimidation, put-downs, or assault. For example, if your supervisor sends you unwanted emails with sexual content, this is likely to create a hostile work environment. Similarly, if your coworkers use racial slurs towards you or about you, it is likely that a hostile work environment has been created.
A single assault or incident of unwanted sexual touching could create a hostile work environment because most people would find that the terms and conditions of employment had changed after an assault occurred. Furthermore, a single racially-charged act, such as displaying a noose, can potentially create a hostile environment.
An employer can be held liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in an adverse employment action, such as loss of wages or failure to promote. Some employers attempt to defend against hostile environment claims by alleging that they promptly took reasonable steps to correct the hostile work environment, and that the employee failed to use a corrective opportunity. A hostile work environment attorney at our Austin firm can help you fight back against this type of defense.
Employers can also be held liable for harassment by coworkers or customers. However, to establish liability in those cases, you will need to show that the employer knew or should have known that a hostile work environment was being created but failed to take any steps to promptly correct the problem. Therefore, it is important to follow any internal grievance procedure that your employer has put in place to address workplace harassment. Usually, you can find the procedure in your employment handbook. If there is no employment handbook, you should report the problem to HR. However you notify your employer, you should memorialize the notification in writing, such as by email, so that it is clear when you reported the hostile work environment.
If you successfully establish a hostile work environment claim, you may be entitled to back pay, front pay, and compensatory damages. When an employer's conduct is especially egregious, you may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are damages designed to punish the employer and deter future similar conduct.Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated Hostile Work Environment Lawyer in Austin
The standard for establishing a hostile work environment is high, and there is a narrow window of time within which to file a charge or claim with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. It is important to retain an experienced discrimination or sexual harassment attorney if you believe that you have a claim. Wiley Walsh, P.C. represents people in Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment with an Austin hostile work environment attorney.