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How to Protect Your Rights in a Hostile Work Environment

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A hostile work environment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race, religion or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance by creating an environment which is intimidating or offensive. This is a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Employees should understand, federal law does not prohibit offhand comments, simple teasing or isolated incidents. The conduct must be objectively offensive to a reasonable person and alter the conditions of your work environment in order to constitute a hostile work environment claim.

A few examples of a hostile work environment can include:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Using derogatory words to describe race or sexual orientation
  • Disparaging comments about an individual’s gender that are not necessarily sexual in nature
  • Negative comments about religious (or lack of religious) beliefs
  • Derogatory references to a person’s mental or physical impairment

Hostile work environment claims require specific elements. First and foremost you must give the company a chance to resolve the problem. In other words, you cannot hold the entire company responsible for an issue they do not know exists. Sometimes simply reporting the problem to the Human Resources Department or a manager allows the victim to find a resolution. It is necessary to have complete information when presenting the problem to the organization or a court of law. Paul Padda Law, PLLC, LLP has developed a simple log for you to use.

If you have notified the organization and not received a resolution, you may then notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Generally, the EEOC must be notified within 180 calendar days of the date the discrimination or discriminatory event took place. Failure to file within this deadline, can render a claim untimely.

Given that we spend the majority of our waking hours at work and you should not be forced to deal with continual harassment. If a hostile work environment is keeping you from excelling at your job, you owe it to yourself and your employer to speak up and exercise your rights.

Exercise your rights, consult an attorney and know all your options.


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Paul Padda, a former federal prosecutor, is the founder of Paul Padda Law: a law firm based in Las Vegas Nevada representing plaintiffs throughout the nation in personal injury and other civil cases. With over 15 years experience litigating in federal and state court, Paul has a proven track record of success, including obtaining one of the largest jury verdicts in Nevada history. A first generation American, Paul is dedicated and committed to helping his clients navigate the legal system and take on large and powerful interests. A lawyer who truly cares, Paul provides individualized and compassionate attention to each and every one of his clients.

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