As is the case with many other types of lawsuits, employers are only liable for these environments if a “reasonable person” would have found them intolerable.
If you’re running a business in Birmingham, your goal is obviously to make your company as profitable and as efficient as possible. Creating a positive work environment not only boosts employee satisfaction, but can also raise the general performance of your company as a whole. But what happens if you have been accused of creating a hostile work environment1? When can an employee file a lawsuit against you for this, and how can you defend yourself in court?
The answer to the last question is actually quite straightforward: simply get in touch with a qualified, experienced sexual harassment defense attorney in Alabama. These legal professionals can assess your unique situation during a consultation and determine the most effective defense strategies. This can help your business avoid significant financial consequences, legal penalties, and other issues. It’s best to book your consultation as soon as possible after being accused of creating a hostile work environment.
The Definition of a Hostile Work Environment
In general terms, a hostile work environment is one in which employees are made to feel extremely uncomfortable – to the point where it affects their ability to carry out their duties efficiently. In extreme situations, employees may even refuse to return to work or quit their jobs due to this type of environment. But what does a hostile work environment actually look like?
According to the EEOC2, a number of factors must be present in order for a work environment to be considered “hostile.” These include:
- Offensive jokes
- Name calling
- Physical assaults
- Offensive objects
- Offensive pictures
- General interference with work performance
The EEOC is very clear when stating that minor incidents will not be considered illegal. These include things like:
- Petty slights
- Isolated incidents
With that said, isolated incidents can form the basis for harassment lawsuits if they are serious enough.
A Reasonable Person Must Find the Environment to be Hostile
As is the case with many other types of lawsuits, employers are only liable for these environments if a “reasonable person” would have found them intolerable. For example, a reasonable person would not find an innocent joke to be offensive, even if a particularly sensitive employee was severely traumatized by it.
Where Can I Find a Harassment Defense Attorney Near Me?
If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced harassment defense attorney nearby, there are many options available. As you have seen, there are a number of situations that could be classified as “hostile work environments.” In fact, many business owners may be creating these hostile environments without even fully realizing it. To give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome, it’s best to book a consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible.