Making Hostile Work Environment Laws Work for You
There was a time when most people took a job out of high school or college and fully expected to stay in that job for the rest of their life. We all know that those days are over and the average American will go through over a dozen jobs and at least two different career changes during their adult life. What this means to an employee is that they are faced with a variety of people with their own way of working, their own personal problems, and sometimes a great deal of unpleasantness. Hostile work environment laws are there to protect you from some unscrupulous bosses (and co-workers), and you need to be aware of what your rights are.
When people think enacting hostile work environment laws to work on their behalf, they usually think of them only in terms of sexual harassment, but that is only one type of harassment. In fact, most people in the work place are subject to a hostile work environment that doesn’t necessarily include any sexual connotations.
For instance, we have all had a boss who, for one reason or another, didn’t like us. Maybe it was our hair color or the type of sandwich that we brought for lunch each day. It doesn’t really matter the reason, but if you are targeted by a boss and you find your work environment to be indeed hostile – which means that you are either being forced to quit or are being threatened with termination – then you need to learn about the hostile work environment laws that are out there to protect you.
No one deserves to be picked on at work, made to feel unworthy, or treated differently than any other person. You should not be intimidated, frightened, or feel threatened in any way. If you do, then you are working in a hostile situation.
Of course, there is also the issue of sexual harassment. Most people think of this in terms of a male boss “hitting on” a female employee, but it can be so much more than that. “Quid pro quo” harassment is when your success in your job is determined by how much you give in to the harasser. It may not be a blatant exchange of sexual favors for a raise – it could just be putting up with his behavior in exchange for not getting fired.
With all types of harassment, hostile work environment laws require that you document every instance of harassment – the date, the time, the place, and the witnesses – in order to state your case in the future. It is rare that these types of cases actually go to court because it is much cheaper (and less shameful) for a company to pay off an employee than to go through the entire legal process, defending the harasser. But, the more information you have on your side, the stronger your case will be when you present it to the powers that be.
No one should ever tolerate harassment in the work place, and if you are feeling that you are working in a hostile work environment, then do something about it.