If you discover or receive reports of harassment at your business, prompt action should always be taken to correct it.
And on that point: Don't just dismiss a worker's complaints as "no big deal," especially if the worker has evidence he or she is being harassed.
Offensive and intimidating behavior can be as serious as threats of physical danger or as seemingly innocent as teasing.
It comes in a variety of forms, from sexual harassment to passing around offensive cartoons.
At the very least, you will not get the most productivity out of your staff; at the worst, you could face going out of business due to a poor reputation and legal issues.
In today’s Fast Legal Answers series, I’ll be defining and explaining what a “hostile work environment” is. How does it relate to discrimination and protected classes?
As a manager, you have the responsibility to create an safe environment where offensive and intimidating behavior is not tolerated.
This means that if your boss is a jerk to everyone including you, you won’t have a hostile work environment claim–the harassment must be based on your membership in legally recognized protected class.
In United States labor law, a hostile work environment exists when one's behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in.
When employees feel offended or intimidated at work, their performance is likely to suffer; in extreme cases, they may quit or make legal claims against the company.
A hostile environment leads to less engaged employees and a tense atmosphere of anger and resentment.
Common complaints in sexual harassment lawsuits include fondling, suggestive remarks, sexually-suggestive photos displayed in the workplace, use of sexual language, or off-color jokes.