It can be difficult to get out of a hostile work environment but it is also a necessity. The reason is that it can increase your stress level and lower your productivity, both of which negatively affect your mental health. There are many different factors that can create a hostile work environment, such as bullying behavior from a boss or discriminatory behavior from coworkers. Regardless of the reason, a hostile environment can make your work life difficult, if not impossible.
There are a few ways to address a hostile work environment, but if it gets really bad, then your only recourse might be a lawsuit against your employer. If that is the stage you are at and you live in Atlanta, then you can contact Seay & Felton for legal advice. Keep reading to find out the settlement amount you are likely to receive after a lawsuit.
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
There are many things that can make for a bad work environment: a lousy boss, a lack of perks, being overworked and underpaid, uncomfortable or outdated equipment, and more. All of those things can make going to work an unpleasant and demoralizing affair. However, for a work environment to be considered hostile, there are a few legal requirements that need to be met.
- The behavior must be discriminatory to a protected classification like race, gender, age, disability, or sexuality.
- That behavior must be pervasive and continuous even after the target of that behavior has repeatedly asked the person committing it to stop.
- The target of that behavior has reported it to the relevant workplace authorities—such as human resources—and no action has been taken.
- The behavior must be serious enough to disrupt the targeted person’s workflow and negatively affect their morale and any chances of career advancement.
- The employer knew about the harassment and hostile behavior but did not do anything to curtail or eliminate it.
As you can see, the behavior must be both very serious and pervasive in order to be considered hostile. Behavior that is merely annoying is not sufficient enough to create a hostile work environment. So someone who repeatedly spoils your favorite TV show or heats up fish in the microwave does not count as a hostile coworker, just an irritating one. However, someone who repeatedly makes discriminatory remarks or shows explicit media does.
How to Deal With a Hostile Work Environment
The first thing to do is talk to the offending party and ask that they stop. If you find this difficult for some reason, then you can ask the Human Resources department for help. If that was not successful, then you must address the hostile behavior with your employer, who should then address it with the offending employee.
This step is important if the behavior does not stop even after your employer’s intervention. The reason is that, if you decide to pursue a lawsuit against your employer, then it has a greater chance of success if you brought up the reason for the hostile work environment with your employer. Normally, taking your complaint to the employer is enough to curb the hostile behavior that has been bothering you, but if it does not, then your only recourse is a lawsuit.
How Much Will I Get For My Hostile Work Environment Settlement?
If your lawsuit is successful, then the settlement amount you receive depends on a few different factors.
- The size of the company for which you work – You are more likely to get a big settlement from a large company than from a smaller one.
- The amount of evidence – The more evidence there is about the hostile work environment and the employer’s refusal to address it, the better the chance that the settlement will be a big one.
- Particularly bad behavior – This also increases the settlement amount, as does behavior that is perpetrated by the victim’s superior.
- Violence – If the victim has experienced violence in any form, that could also increase the settlement.
- Discrimination – Certain types of discrimination—such as disability discrimination—can get the victim punitive damages if the case goes to trial.
All of these factors have a significant impact on the settlement amount that can be received by the victim. So, the more of them that are present in the hostile work environment case, the greater the settlement amount will be.
Contact a Lawyer To Help You with Your Hostile Work Environment Settlement
No one should have to endure a hostile work environment in their attempt to make an honest living. That is because a hostile work environment can create emotional, psychological, and financial problems for the person who is in the middle of it. If you are experiencing a hostile work environment and have taken all of the necessary steps to address it with your employer, then your only choice is to file a hostile work environment suit.
You will need an experienced attorney to help you because they are your best chance of receiving a generous settlement amount. After being in the middle of a hostile work environment, that is the least of what you deserve.