What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment in Ohio?Ohio & Indiana Legal News
Although challenging supervisors and contemptible coworkers are unavoidable facts of life in Ohio as well as throughout the United States, no one should ever feel physically threatened, degraded, or debased while they are at work.
There are numerous state and federal laws in place designed to protect our state’s residents from hostile work environments. When a manager, supervisor, or colleague torments or harasses you to the extent that you fear for your physical safety, are no longer able to do your job, or feel like you have no choice but to quit, you might have a valid sexual harassment lawsuit on your hands.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
On its website, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that fostering a hostile work environment or allowing one to persist without any attempt to deescalate the situation is a type of illegal harassment. The commission goes on to say that harassment becomes illegal when:
- Tolerating the abusive behavior becomes a condition of continued employment
- The behavior is so pervasive or so severe that it creates a work environment that any reasonable person would feel was abusive, hostile, or intimidating
It is necessary to keep in mind the importance of the words pervasive and severe. One-off jokes, gentle mocking or teasing, and back-and-forth banter do not meet the legal criterion for harassing behaviors.
Even something as harsh as a racial slur is not enough to support the filing of a hostile work suit provided that the slur is uttered only once.
Hostile Work Environments and Protected Classes
The kind of harassment from which a hostile work environment lawsuit can arise must have its roots in a personal attribute or a specific activity that is protected by a federal or state law. Protected characteristics include:
- Over 40-years-old
- A presumed or acknowledged disability
- Genetic details
- Retired, reserve, or active military status
- Ethnicity and national origin
- Skin color and race
- Religious affiliation
- Sexual orientation (under Ohio state and regulations only)
Laws have also been acted to protect employees from hostile retaliation for reporting harassment or discrimination or participating in the investigation of reports of these behaviors.
Who Can Be Sued for a Hostile Work Environment?
If you have a legitimate hostile work environment claim, you may name the specific colleague, manager, or supervisor who harassed you as well as your employer as defendants. The agency or company may be held liable for allowing this hostility to take place and for not putting a stop to the harassment, but rather allowing it to become pervasive and severe.
Speak With a Cincinnati Sexual Harassment Attorney
Sexual harassment lawsuits are some of the more difficult legal actions to pursue, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth the effort. With competent and experienced legal representation, you can improve your odds of seeing justice by penalizing those who hurt you. The Cincinnati sexual harassment lawyer at the Green Law Firm can meet with you to discuss your situation during a free consultation at (513) 769-0840.