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Signs of a Hostile Work Environment in California

Emanuel Shirazi

For many people, the perfect job allows them to leave work at work. Unfortunately, many employees are subject to inappropriate actions at their jobs that contribute to a hostile work environment. An environment that negatively affects employees while at work can also worsen their mental and/or emotional health. If you are worried about a hostile work environment, consider working with a Los Angeles, California hostile work environment attorney to review your unique situation.

What Actions Contribute to a Hostile Work Environment?

To prove that you are in a hostile work environment, you must be able to document actions made by others that could be considered hostile. These actions must be against your status in a protected class. Protected classes include traits like:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

Actions that could contribute to a hostile work environment include:

  • Verbal, physical, or sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate jokes or insults
  • Threats of violence

If these actions are not properly addressed by your employer after you attempt to stop them yourself, they could be liable for a hostile work environment. These actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and The Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Signs of a Hostile Work Environment

If you have been in a hostile work environment for a prolonged period of time, it might not occur to you that your environment is so toxic. Here are some signs that you might work in a hostile work environment:

  • Bad Relationships: While it’s normal to not get along with coworkers all the time, excessive distrust or open acts of hostility are not qualities of a healthy workplace.
  • Lack of Support: A hostile work environment often does not provide its employees with the ability to develop their skills or advance in the company.
  • Burnout: Excessive competition is a key part of a hostile work environment. This can lead to employees getting burned out quickly and high turnover rates.
  • Stress: Some symptoms of stress can be difficult to determine alone, but there are often physical symptoms of stress that can be seen by friends and loved ones.

What Evidence Do I Need to File a Claim?

The key to an effective hostile work environment claim is proving a motive. Inappropriate actions must be motivated by discrimination to be considered hostile. Documenting any instances of these actions, as well as any attempts on your end to stop them, can be helpful in proving your case.

Why Do I Need an Attorney?

Hostile work environment claims can be incredibly difficult to prove due to their subjective nature. If your employer has not attempted to remedy the hostile situation, working with an attorney can help you find a solution. They can assist you in gathering evidence to submit a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The stronger your case is, the higher the likelihood that the EEOC will investigate the behavior.

Employees typically have 180 days to file a claim and can only get it extended by up to 300 days. This means that time is of the essence in a hostile work environment claim. Working with an employment attorney can help you deliver an effective, evidence-based case that stops the hostile behavior from occurring again.

Hold Your Employer Accountable

If you have a legally viable hostile work environment case, you might be able to file a claim against your employer for failing to maintain a safe work environment. This is helpful because you can recover compensation for your damages, such as:

  • Lost Wages: A toxic work environment can make an employee not want to show up to work, potentially resulting in lost wages. This also includes overtime pay that might not have been properly distributed.
  • Pain and Suffering: If a hostile work environment causes you to experience extreme emotional distress, you might be able to recover damages for it. While this doesn’t erase the harm done by your employer, it can make it easier to start the healing process.
  • Punitive Damages: If the case is especially egregious, a court might decide to fine a company to prevent this kind of behavior from occurring again. These are called punitive damages.


Q: Can You Sue in California for a Hostile Work Environment?

A: In Los Angeles, you can sue for a work environment that causes negative effects on your mental and/or physical health. To do this, you must prove that you experience negative verbal or physical actions and that you are in a protected class. You must also prove that you have attempted to stop the behavior and that it prevents you from doing your job. Filing a claim can help you recover compensation for lost wages and other damages.

Q: What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria for a Hostile Work Environment in California?

A: There is a wide list of behaviors that contribute to a hostile work environment. Some of these actions include racist or sexist comments, harassment, and physical altercations. If there are harmful actions that are caused directly by discrimination against a protected class, like race or ethnicity, then it could be considered hostile. Contact an employment attorney to evaluate whether certain actions contribute to a hostile work environment.

Q: What Is Proof of a Hostile Work Environment?

A: A person filing a hostile work environment claim must be able to prove that they experienced harassment that was motivated by their being a member of a protected class. The actions must have created a hostile environment and been continued, even after the person asked for the actions to stop. If this behavior persists, then it could contribute to a hostile work environment.

Q: Does the EEOC Investigate Hostile Work Environments?

A: Employees who believe that they are involved in a hostile workplace environment can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency reviews the evidence presented in claims and has the power to hold an employer accountable for failing to prevent a hostile work environment. Work with an employment attorney for assistance in filing an EEOC claim.

Understand Your Options

Shirazi Law Firm, PC, is familiar with employment cases involving discrimination, sexual harassment, and hostile work environments. Our individual approach allows us to provide personalized support for your hostile work environment claim. Schedule a consultation today to review your options and recover damages for your situation.

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