Hostile work environment claims against employers are complex and difficult to substantiate. There are a lot of elements that need to exist for an employee to have a valid claim. However, if all the required legal elements exist, and you have enough evidence to prove your case, it’s possible to receive a substantial settlement award or verdict.
Understanding Hostile Work Environment Claims
Hostility is a subjective and relative term and is difficult to define. What may be a hostile environment to one person may not be hostile to the next. Both federal and state anti-discrimination laws prohibit harassment or discriminatory conduct when based on a legally protected class, such as race, age or gender.
Unlawful harassment can be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Washington Law against Discrimination.
The Washington State Supreme Court’s decision in Glasgow v. Georgia Pacific, 103 Wn.2d 401 (1985) provides insight into just why these laws are necessary to protect employees:
Sexual harassment as a working condition unfairly handicaps an employee against whom it is directed in his or her work performance and as such is a barrier to sexual equality in the workplace. In assessing the viability of a sexual harassment claim under federal law, one court posited this rhetorical question: “How then can sexual harassment, which injects the most demeaning sexual stereotypes into the general work environment and which always represents an intentional assault on an individual’s innermost privacy, not be illegal?”
Who is protected from hostility in the workplace?
If you are being harassed at work because you belong to one of the following protected classes, you may be protected under anti-discrimination laws:
- National Origin
- Sex (Gender)
- Sexual orientation
Under the Washington Law against Discrimination, in order to have a valid case of unlawful harassment, you’ll need to be able to prove the following: 1) The abusive conduct was unwelcome; 2) You were harassed because you belong to one of the above classes; and 3) your employer knew about it and failed to take reasonable steps to stop it, and 4) it affected the terms or conditions of your employment.
Find Out if You Qualify to File a Hostile Work Environment Claim
If you have suffered harassment on the job, we encourage you to call our office in Everett and speak to one of our lawyers at Deno Millikan Law Firm. We can review your case, determine eligibility to file suit, and then help you take legal action. Call us today at (425) 259-2222 for a free telephone consultation.