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What Recourse Do I Have if My Job Environment Is a Hostile Workplace?

Dec. 28, 2021

A peaceful work environment is every employee's right, as per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As per the law, a hostile work environment is one in which an employee is subjected to harassment or unfair treatment resulting in an atmosphere where they feel threatened or intimidated.

If an employee is discriminated against based on their race, religion or was sexually harassed, they are in a hostile work environment.

What You Can Do If You Have a Hostile Work Environment

Any individual who claims a hostile work environment has to prove its existence with fact-based details. That's because, in Illinois, the burden of proof falls on the ones making the claims, i.e., the one being bullied or harassed. So it would help if you wrote detailed notes on the work environment you experienced and how it affects your ability to perform work duties.

Additionally, you also need to prove that the treatment was pervasive, severe and that you were targeted. That is the best way to prove that the offender was hostile to you specifically. The court will assess your case from a reasonable person’s point of view.

The crux of proving a hostile work environment under Section VII is sufficient evidence. Save documentation that you can use to prove you were harassed in court. This can be anything from saving emails or voicemails to videos showing your employer harassing you or another employee. It doesn’t matter if you are working from home. Any harassing communication that extends from your workplace to your home can be considered as viable evidence.

Do not hesitate to record any efforts you made to report that hostile work environment or harassment that you made to HR or your employer. If you filed a report with either of them, that means your employer was aware of your circumstances and distress. The court will value your claim if you prove you took measures to report the incidents long before you filed a lawsuit.

Also, keep a record of unreported harassment claims to prove to the court that the treatment was pervasive. Identify witnesses that may have seen those interactions and who can be relied upon to testify during a trial if necessary.

Why You Should Hire an Employment Rights Lawyer in Chicago

Proving a hostile work environment can be a challenge, but not if you have an employment rights lawyer in Chicago in your corner. They can help you make a compelling case, ensure your rights are protected and that you can get the compensation you deserve.

This is important because offenders (accused employers) may try to avoid liability by claiming:

  • You did not use the procedure that was in place to report or remedy the alleged harassment claim.

  • They took reasonable care to prevent or correct the behavior after you reported it.

  • You failed to report the incidents as per workplace policies.

Contact the Law Offices of Michael T. Smith

If you are experiencing a hostile work environment and have done everything possible to try and correct it, speak to an employment rights lawyer in Chicago at the Law Office of Michael T. Smith first. Otherwise, you may not get unemployment benefits or compromise the value of your claim later. An attorney from our firm can help you understand your options and ensure you get compensated. Contact us for a free consultation today!