By Ricotta & Marks, P.C. on August 9th, 2021 in
Do I Need A Lawyer For My Hostile Work Environment Claim? Whether or not you need a lawyer for your hostile work environment claim depends on a myriad of factors and varies from case to case. In some instances, employees seek assistance through all possible channels to no avail. Their claim may not be proven by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a supervisor may dismiss the victim’s accusations.
In hostile work environment cases, every victim deserves a voice. Sometimes, however, finding out how to exercise that voice is a problem. While you do not need a lawyer to file a hostile work environment claim with an organization such as the EEOC or the New York State Division of Human Rights, it is recommended to seek legal assistance. This is particularly true if you wish to file a hostile work environment lawsuit, which is common in such cases.
Q: What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
Before you make a hostile work environment claim, certain criteria must be met in order to substantiate such claims. For a hostile work environment to be proven, there must be:
- Discrimination or harassment based on the employee’s inclusion in any protected category. Protected categories include factors like age, race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, etc. For a full list of protected categories and more information regarding discrimination and harassment, visit our online resource on employment discrimination.
- The unlawful behavior must be more that petty slights or trivial inconveniences. While federal law requires the behavior to be severe or pervasive, New York Law prohibits much more conduct.
Proving that such criteria has been met in a hostile work environment case is complex and can be burdensome. To alleviate that burden, it is beneficial to move through each step of the process for filing a hostile work environment claim. In doing so, you may increase your chances of success when filing a hostile work environment lawsuit.
Q: What Is the Process For Filing A Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit?
Again, each hostile discrimination lawsuit is unique and depends entirely on the circumstances of the specific case. There are generally agreed-upon steps to take, however, when it comes to filing a hostile work environment lawsuit:
- Understand the factors that contribute to a hostile work environment. For more guidance on this topic, visit our online resource regarding hostile work environments.
- Document all issues contributing to the hostile work environment. Write down the individual or individuals involved and the location, time, and date of the issue. Keep detailed records of all contributing actions, events, or behaviors. Take note of any witnesses who saw the hostile behavior. Maintaining this evidence will help strengthen your hostile work environment lawsuit.
- Contact the appropriate department within your employer to submit a complaint. This may be a human resources department or a designated individual within your company or organization. If your direct employer is creating a hostile work environment, consider speaking with a supervisor or manager about the issue.
- Seek legal assistance. If you are a victim of a hostile work environment, navigating the situation can be stressful and intimidating. Between managing workplace tension and understanding the various moving parts of federal, state, and city legislation, it can be difficult to bring up a hostile work environment claim against your employer.
If you wish to move forward with a hostile work environment lawsuit, your legal team will be asked to produce ample evidence to support the claims. To this point, maintaining evidence and moving through each step of filing a hostile work environment is crucial. Courts will be looking for the frequency and severity of the hostile work environment, so keeping accurate and detailed records could make a difference in the success of your case.
Q: Can I Seek Legal Assistance Before Filing A Complaint?
Yes. You can seek legal assistance before filing a complaint. Seeking legal assistance does not preclude you from filing a complaint with the EEOC or New York State Division of Human Rights. Many victims have chosen to consult an experienced hostile work environment attorney at Ricotta & Marks before moving forward with their claims. Doing so can strengthen your case and help understand whether filing a lawsuit would be an ideal option for you.
Above all, knowledge is the best weapon against a hostile work environment. The more aware and diligent you are in observing and recording the patterns of hostility in the workplace, the better equipped you are to stand up for your rights. If you feel that you need a lawyer for your hostile work environment claim, consider contacting Ricotta & Marks P.C. to discuss your options today.