In the State of Florida, workers are protected by both federal and state laws against discrimination in the workplace. In some cases, individual acts constitute discrimination, such as not hiring a job applicant because of the applicant’s national origin, age, or disability. Discrimination, however, can also occur over a period of time, creating a “hostile work environment”. As an employee, how do you know if offensive conduct or harassing behavior has created a hostile work environment? Because no two situations are ever exactly the same it is always best to consult with an experienced Florida employment law attorney if you believe you are being forced to endure a hostile work environment; however, some basic information on the subject may also be helpful.
At the federal level, there are a number of laws which collectively prohibit a discrimination in the workplace based on a number of protected classes or characteristics. At the state level, the Florida Discrimination Act mirrors many of the same protected classes and characteristics found in federal anti-discrimination laws. Many of the anti-discrimination laws specifically prohibit harassment in the workplace because harassment can turn the workplace into a hostile work environment.
Like most people, you may feel that you know harassment when you see it. For harassment to be illegal, and therefore actionable by the victim, one of the two following must be true:
- Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment OR
- The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
If you feel that either of these discriminations applies to your workplace, you may indeed be the victim of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is typically created over time –isolated incidences of being called a derogatory name, for example, would not likely rise to the level of a hostile work environment. If, however, that conduct took place continuously over a long period of time and it made you feel scared or intimidated, that might qualify as a hostile work environment situation.
If you believe that your workplace qualifies as a “hostile work environment” because of your employer’s conduct or conduct your employer allows to occur at work, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Richard Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to discuss possible legal options.