Myths About Hostile Work Environments You Need to Know

March 15, 2022 Rager & Yoon Employment Law

You have a right to work in an environment that’s reasonably healthy, positive, and free of harassing behavior that can otherwise interfere with your ability to work productively. Unfortunately, sometimes employees work in hostile environments.

You deserve compensation if your work environment is hostile. However, you might not pursue the compensation for which you are eligible if you fall prey to certain myths about hostile work environments in California. They include the following:

A Hostile Work Environment is One Where Harassment is Ongoing

Many people who don’t take action despite working in what genuinely qualifies as a hostile work environment fail to do so because they are operating under the assumption that a work environment may only be considered hostile if it is an environment in which harassment has been ongoing and consistent. That’s not necessarily the case.

True, frequent harassment is often a quality of a hostile work environment, but there are exceptions. Under California law, “A single incident of harassing conduct is sufficient to create a triable issue regarding the existence of a hostile work environment if the harassing conduct has unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s work performance or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a California employment attorney if you feel yours is a hostile work environment but you worry you don’t have a case because the instances of harassment which have occurred have been somewhat few and far between. The severity of the harassment, not how often it occurs, is what’s most significant in these circumstances.

You Have to Prove Your Productivity Has Declined to Prove Yours is a Hostile Work Environment

In general, someone can be said to have a hostile work environment when the nature of the harassment they have been subject to is severe enough to prevent them from working as productively as they could if their work environment was healthier. Some victims of hostile work environments assume this means that they must objectively show their productivity has declined to prove they work in a hostile environment.

That’s not true. In California, “the plaintiff need not prove that his or her tangible productivity has declined as a result of the harassment. It suffices to prove that a reasonable person subjected to the discriminatory conduct would find, as the plaintiff did, that the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.”

That’s not necessarily meant to suggest it’s always easy to prove a work environment is hostile. Demonstrating that you are being harassed in a way that would take a toll on the productivity of any “reasonable person” can still be a challenge if you attempt to do so on your own.

You don’t have to. At Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, offering employment law services to clients in and around Los Angeles, we provide representation to victims of hostile work environments, optimizing their chances of being properly compensated. Call us today at 310-527-6994 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.

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