Are you experiencing an illegal hostile work environment? Facing an illegal hostile work environment each day takes its toll. If you aren't careful, your work productivity, your health and even your personal relationships can suffer as a result of prolonged exposure to such an environment. Take a moment to consider what you can do to protect yourself and your career.
How to Protect Yourself & Your Career from an Illegal Hostile Work Environment:
- Know Your Rights as an Employee: The first thing you can do to protect yourself from an illegal hostile work environment is to know your rights. Remember – an illegal hostile work environment can be based on a number of different legally protected characteristics, not just gender. Employees are protected from discrimination based on race, color, gender, pregnancy, age, religion, national origin, disability, etc. according to federal law.
- Discrimination Policies & Training: If you notice that your employer does not have discrimination policies and/or training in place, of that those in place are insufficient at addressing workplace discrimination, speak to your employer. Educating employees about appropriate and inappropriate work conduct can decrease instances of illegalharassment and discrimination. By contributing to a better set of discrimination policies and training at work, you help yourself, your co-workers, and your employer.
- Report the Problem: Employees who are already experiencing illegal harassment that is disrupting your ability to perform your job duties, don't ignore the situation. Let the individual harassing you know you are not comfortable with their behavior. Be clear and direct and tell them that you want them to stop. If this isn't possible or you aren't comfortable confronting the harasser directly, speak to a supervisor or a Human Resources representative for the company. Even if you aren't being harassed directly, if you witness a coworker being illegally harassed, you should still report the problem and are protected for doing so as much as if you were a victim.
- Document the Problem: Endeavor to have others around when you encounter your harasser so that there are witnesses to any misconduct. Take notes of interactions with your harasser; be detailed. Describe when, where and how the encounters occur. Documenting the problem can be helpful when the employer investigates the problem or for any legal action you may take in the future.
- Don't Retaliate: Retaliating against your harasser can confuse the issue. It can cloud any investigation conducted by your employer or a court's determination of the claim. It could even subject you to liability.