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Do you work in a hostile work environment?

It seems as though every workplace has at least one or two troublemakers who make things unpleasant for others. But if things have gotten to the point that you dread going to your Florida job each day, it is possible that you work in a hostile work environment.

FindLaw explains that while “hostile work environment” has no single all-encompassing definition, it almost always involves sexual harassment of one sort or another. Consequently, should you take your employer to court over your working conditions, the judge will look at a variety of factors to determine if your situation actually rises to the level of a hostile work environment. The four most relevant factors are the following:

  1. What type of harassment did you suffer?
  2. How long did it continue?
  3. How severe was it?
  4. Did it negatively affect your work performance and productivity?

Words versus actions

In most situations, if the co-worker who harassed you “merely” used words to do so, that is insufficient to prove hostile work environment. Such things as dirty jokes and disparaging remarks to or about you and/or your work generally in and of themselves fail to qualify, regardless of how offensive you found them. Usually your co-worker must have added one or more actions to his or her words.

Sometimes, however, words alone do rise to the level of hostile work environment. For instance, if the words your co-worker used to victimize you were so profane, vile or otherwise egregious that they put you in a constant state of embarrassment or humiliation, the judge or jury might well find that your co-worker committed a verbal assault against you. This “act” qualifies as hostile work environment.

This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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