Workplace harassment in any form is unacceptable. In California, workers are protected by both federal and state laws to ensure they aren’t the victims of such negative treatment in the workplace. Those who are harassed or discriminated against at work can take legal action accordingly.
Unfortunately, although the law may officially prohibit workplace harassment, it still occurs. New research has shed light on a surprising reason it may also be more common during certain times of year than others: the weather.
Harvard Doctoral Student Identifies Link Between High Temperatures and Workplace Harassment
Ayushi Narayan is a Harvard doctoral student and author of a paper recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For this paper, she examined upwards of 800,000 U.S. Postal Service workplace harassment and discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office between 2004 and 2019. She then compared when the incidents in question occurred with the weather conditions on those days.
Her findings revealed something quite interesting. On days when the temperature exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit, reports of harassment and discrimination increased by approximately 5%. When temperatures exceeded 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a smaller but still noteworthy 2.6% increase in harassment and discrimination reports was observed.
This isn’t the only research indicating that stress caused by heat can impact the likelihood of individuals engaging in hateful behavior. Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany recently published another study in The Lancet showing that hate speech on Twitter appears to be more common on days that are either very hot or very cold.
It’s not precisely clear why this is. Generally, though, it appears that discomfort caused by temperature extremes can make it more difficult for people to control their behavior, causing them to harass others or discriminate against them more readily than they otherwise might.
What These Findings Mean for Employers
It’s the personal responsibility of all employees not to harass or discriminate against their coworkers. Just because the heat has made someone feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean they get a free pass to misbehave in the workplace.
That said, it’s also the responsibility of employers to minimize the chances of workplace harassment occurring. Thus, employers might guard against harassment by taking steps to ensure the conditions in their offices and other such environments are comfortable.
Of course, employers have little control over the working conditions of those who work remotely. They must therefore also monitor all chats and other such open correspondence to ensure communication styles among workers are respectful.
Taking such steps could theoretically decrease the chances of workers being the victims of harassment or discrimination. However, it’s unlikely anything will ever eliminate this problem entirely.
Hopefully, you will never experience this type of mistreatment in the workplace. If you do, though, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options. A Los Angeles workplace harassment and discrimination attorney at the Rager Law Firm is prepared to help you see that justice is served. To learn more about how we can help, contact us online or call us at 310-527-6994.
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