Securing Clients' Right to a Safe Workplace Free of Harassment
The average American employee will spend more than 95,000 hours at work over his or her lifetime. When so much of your life is focused on the workplace, you need an environment that is supportive of your career and let you put your talents to work.
However, for many American workers, managers and coworkers can turn the office into a battle zone. Although workplace harassment is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and companies have established zero-tolerance policies, you could be at risk for harassment the moment you walk into work. Having a dedicated Atlanta hostile work environment lawyer can make all the difference in safeguarding your rights and ensuring the workplace is a welcoming and supportive environment for everyone.
Harassment in the Office
One-third of American employees have reported being bullied at work sometime in their careers, and according to the Insurance Journal, companies paid out more than $356 million in harassment lawsuit settlements in 2012. A hostile work environment can be devastating for both the employee and employer – bullied workers report higher levels of stress, health issues and problems at home while employers experience higher turnovers, litigation costs and loss of productivity.
Even if your company has anti-harassment policies in place, if you feel you are experiencing a hostile work environment, you need to follow a few guidelines to protect your career and your health:
- Understand what constitutes illegal harassment and hostile work environment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment is unlawful if enduring unwelcome conduct based on protected characteristics (like race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, or sexual harassment) is a condition of your employment or if the conduct is severe enough that your workplace becomes hostile or abusive. In extreme cases, the harassment affects the victim's employment status, whether it's demotion or failure to promote. Slurs, physical threats, intimidation, and offensive jokes are all examples of workplace harassment.
- Do not feel like you have to talk to your harasser about his or her conduct. That dirty joke your manager tells in the break room might be a way for him to blow off some steam, but to you as his subordinate, it may come off as intimidating and awkward. If a situation makes you uncomfortable or threatened, it's important to not be perceived as welcoming the conduct. Do not laugh or joke with the harasser, and let him know that you are uncomfortable. But, do not feel like you have to confront him. It is the company's responsibility to keep the workplace free from harassment. Instead, if the situation continues, it's crucial to keep a record of all harassment incidents.
- Gather evidence of the harassment. Everyone has heard that harassment is “he-said/she-said”, so it is important that you take all the steps you can to protect yourself. First, begin by keeping a log of all the incidents that occur. Second, keep any emails/texts or documents that show the harasser's behavior. Third, record the harassment if you can. Most phones have recording devices. It is legal to record a conversation in Georgia as long as you are a party to the conversation and all other parties to the conversation are also in Georgia. So, don't leave a recorder and walk away, but if you are being harassed – record it.
- Report instances of harassment to management. To prevent a hostile situation from escalating, you should report any harassment to your human resources department as early as possible so that the company can take appropriate and immediate action to rectify the situation. If you do not have an HR department, the company doesn't have an employee handbook or you feel the company won't validate your concerns, call our attorneys for advice on how to proceed. You can schedule your own appointment to speak with an attorney today for no charge.
- Seek help outside company doors. If you feel your concerns have not been addressed, the situation has not improved, or worst of all, you are demoted, terminated or not promoted because of your harasser, it is time to contact an employment lawyer who specializes in discrimination and workplace harassment like the attorneys at Barrett & Farahany.
Today's employees work too hard to have their talents and work compromised by harassment in the workplace. Laws are in place to protect your career against abuse and intimidation – as an employee, you need to understand your rights. You are not alone. Let our Atlanta hostile work environment attorneys help!
Fostering a healthy workplace culture
Types of Workplace Culture
A workplace has a life of its own, to a certain extent. Each place of employment has its own unique culture and personality, and that personality can be toxic or benign. It can be a breath of fresh air or constantly gloomy and dark.
Whatever your workplace culture may be, it will have an impact on your employees' attitude. It has been noted that having a healthy workplace culture will foster a much better work environment. A non-toxic environment can help to make employees more comfortable, more productive and, overall, much better employees. A toxic work environment might result in disgruntled employees who look at the company they work for as a revolving door. A disgruntled employee may leave the minute they secure a better opportunity, but a healthy work environment could foster more satisfied employees. A satisfied employee may not only work harder but may also be more loyal. The more satisfied an employee is, the more likely they are to stay and work for you long-term.
Ensuring a healthy workplace culture
Here at Barrett & Farahany we seek to create and offer a healthy workplace culture; a culture where employees are treated family, work as a team, are not afraid to speak up and are happy to come to work. We firmly believe that such an environment is not just conducive to building a good workplace culture but is also better for our clients. A healthy workplace helps facilitate employee satisfaction; higher employee satisfaction leads to higher quality of work for our clients. This sentiment is echoed by the Managing Partner at Barrett & Farahany, Amanda Farahany, who states “Our firm believes that if we turn over every stone, no matter how large, we will find the information we need to help our client fight her cause. Each person in our firm has a role in accomplishing that.” This shows that each employee at Barrett & Farahany, and the contribution they make, is valued.
A few signs of a good workplace culture include:
- A high level of trust in employees:
By trusting your employees and showing confidence in them you are saying that you value and trust their contributions. This is the kind of sentiment that results in employee satisfaction.
- Less office politics:
Employees should not be subjected to menial criticism or unhealthy conversations when they come to work, whether in person or remotely. They should know they are respected, not just by their supervisors, but by their co-workers as well.
- A sophisticated atmosphere
All employees, no matter the work, want their sentiments and work to be acknowledged and respected. Without such an environment there will be a high level of dissatisfaction, which typically means a high turnover rate.
Benefits of a healthy workplace
By ensuring a healthy workplace culture, we are also ensuring that our clients will be able to get the personal attention they, and their cases, deserve. This will foster long-term relationships with clients as well. After all, a client who is treated well is more likely to come back for future needs, as well as refer those who need legal help. This was, in fact, echoed by a recent client of ours who stated that “I will never forget the type of discipline and commitment that it takes to fight power.” She went on to state, “I want you to know that because of your firm, I will be able to look back and say that once in my life, I gave everything I had for justice.”
This kind of client satisfaction is only the tip of the iceberg, as positive client reviews abound for our firm. Some of these reviews can be found by simply doing a Google search of our firm name. We are thankful for our workplace culture, which is a big reason for our 4.6-star rating on Google.
Fostering a healthy workplace culture is known to increase not just employee well-being but client satisfaction as well. Read more about what kind of benefits you can reap by fostering a healthy workplace culture, and what Barrett & Farahany has to offer when it comes to working at our firm.