Carlin & Buchsbaum, LLP
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You hate your job, but is it a hostile work environment?

At some point, most people hate their jobs. It may be the work itself that seems to drain the life out of them, or it may be the long hours, low pay or travel time that bring them to this point. Perhaps you are in a job now that you dislike, and you are wondering about your options.

It may be easy to label your work environment as hostile if you find it is a toxic place to be. Not getting along with your boss or your coworkers, or even having someone in the office who openly dislikes you may make it difficult to get up for work each morning. While it may be true that there is some hostility in your job, in order for you to have legal recourse, certain factors must exist.

What qualifies as hostile?

It is not enough to say your workplace is hostile because it makes you unhappy. Even if everyone in the building is unhappy, that may not mean the environment is hostile. You may have just cause to complain, but you may not have cause to file a lawsuit unless the following items are true:

  • Your employer or manager prevents you from doing your job because of certain actions that set unreasonable expectations for you.
  • Your employer or manager may not behave this way directly, but permits or condones the actions from others.
  • The words or actions of your employer, manager or coworkers are discriminatory as defined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • The actions are beyond a one-time or occasional comment but establish a pervasive atmosphere that you feel you cannot escape while at work.
  • The behavior continues even after you ask the person to stop.

This may include such actions as telling sexually explicit jokes, mocking you because of your age or failing to promote you because of your gender or other protected status.

Don't go it alone

If you have spoken with your coworker, reported the matter to your boss or asked human resources for assistance, but the behavior continues, you may feel you have little choice but to deal with it until you can find a better job. However, you may have other options.

Speaking about your situation with an attorney may provide you with additional steps you can take to resolve the issue. An attorney with extensive experience assisting employees with matters of harassment, discrimination and hostile work environments can offer guidance and representation for many circumstances.

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