Generally, an average person living and working in the US will spend at least 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. Hence, it demonstrates how important a good work environment is to ensure productivity and efficiency.

However, sometimes workers are exposed to a hostile work environment. According to statistics, this type of problem affects one-fifth of the American population. In this article, you will find out what a hostile work environment is and how to report it in Florida

Hostile Work Environment vs Harassment – Are These Terms the Same Thing? 

In Florida, it is not uncanny to see people using the terms “hostile work environment” and “harassment” interchangeably. Typically, most cases involving harassment fall within the category of a hostile work environment. 

If you are an employee working in a company established in Florida, you might be aware that harassment is a form of employment discrimination. 

Consequently, this type of misconduct violates several laws, such as the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

In this context, the Civil Rights Act Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), and national origin. Also, no discriminations based on age (40 years of age or older), medical condition, disability, or genetic information can take place in a work environment.

When Harassment Becomes Unlawful – Understanding the Concept 

In Florida, situations involving harassment in the work environment become unlawful when:

  • an employee endures any type of offensive conduct as a condition of continued employment
  • the offensive conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile, threatening, or abusive

In this sense, anti-discrimination laws both at the state and federal level prohibit any type of harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge. It includes individuals testifying or participating in any way in an investigation/lawsuit under these laws. 

Also, such legal provisions protect individuals opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe as being a violation of the anti-discrimination laws. 

As harassment can occur in a wide array of circumstances in a company, it is crucial to work with an expert attorney to identify a case involving a hostile work environment. For example, it is common to find cases involving harassment:

  • When the harasser is a victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an employer’s agent, a co-worker, or even a non-employee
  • When the victim is not harassed directly, but it still affected by the misconduct (e.g., racial prejudice)
  • When the harassment occurs without economic injury to the victim

How to Identify Harassing Behavior in the Work Environment? 

In Florida, the misconduct must create a work environment that would be threatening, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people to be considered unlawful. 

Generally, isolated incidents (with some exceptions), annoyances, and petty slights will not trigger the level of illegality necessary to litigate the situation. On the other hand, cases involving offensive conduct include:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs, epithets, or name-calling
  • Physical assaults 
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Ridicule/mockery
  • Insults
  • Put-downs
  • Offensive objects/pictures 
  • Interference with work performance

Reporting Hostile Work Environment in Florida

First, it is necessary to face the situation and ask the harasser to stop. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) encourages employees nationwide to inform the harasser directly that such behavior is improper and must stop.

Yet, it is not always easy to talk with a harasser, so we recommend you talk to an expert attorney at an early stage to prevent the escalation of the misconduct. If you are still employed, it is possible to submit a written complaint to the appropriate authority.

On the other hand, if a company fires an employee in a situation involving harassment, you must seek legal guidance immediately. Generally, lawyers have less ground to stop a hostile environment situation compared to pursuing justice in court when the company fires an employee in a harassment case. 

Regardless, such cases are much more complex to deal with, so make sure to seek expert legal assessment as soon as possible. 

How Do You Report a Hostile Work Environment in Florida? – Work with an Expert Attorney Today 

Do you think you have a case involving hostile work environment? At Jurado and Farshchian, P.L. we have a team of experienced business attorneys to help you. 

Waste no time. Call Attorney Romy B. Jurado at (305) 921-0976 or send us an email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.