Most people want to go to work, put in their hours without any drama, and get back to the rest of their lives. Drama at work can escalate when you have a bully or bullies in the workplace. What do you do about people who seem to enjoy making the workplace uncomfortable and are targeting you? You may have a hostile work environment claim if they are bullying you because of a protected status.

At Erkel Law, P.C., an experienced workplace attorney can help understand if you have a harassment claim. By examining the evidence, a Sacramento hostile work environment lawyer could determine whether the bullying rises to the level of a hostile work environment and explain whether the bullying is workplace discrimination.

Workplace Bullying and Hostile Work Environment

People do not need to be best friends with their coworkers, but friendly working relationships make things easier for everyone involved. At a minimum, people should be polite and respectful.

When someone has a workplace bully or bullies, they feel targeted for harassment. Sometimes, a single person faces hostility from one or more bullies. Other times, a small group of people may be the target. Whatever the circumstances, workplace bullying is emotionally draining and makes it difficult for people to complete their jobs.

Not all workplace bullying qualifies as a hostile work environment. Sometimes, coworkers are rude, but their bullying does not violate any rules or laws. Workplace harassment violates the law when bullies focus on vulnerable areas like race, gender, age, and religion.

Not all harassment is overt. When people think of a hostile work environment, they think of someone calling them names, making fun of them, or otherwise being mean to them. People can make a work environment hostile by making people uncomfortable with behavior that targets a protected class but might not seem hostile in isolation. For example, a coworker who tries to convert someone to their religion can create a hostile work environment, even if they are always polite. A lawyer in Sacramento can help you understand whether workplace behavior crosses the line into creating a hostile work environment.

Protected Classes and Workplace Discrimination

While most workplaces prohibit bullying, not all bullying falls under workplace harassment rules. To qualify as harassment, the behavior must target a protected class. Under federal law, the four main protected classes are

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Religion

A combination of state and federal law extends protections to additional groups, including:

  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Medical condition
  • Military or veteran status

Discrimination does not have to be overt or universally offensive to count as discrimination. Harassment is very personal, and what may offend someone might not offend someone else. Employees need to notify their employer of the harassing behavior and give notice that they find it offensive.

Workplace harassment is not always top-down. While supervisors and managers can harass employees, sometimes coworkers harass them. Customers and other non-employees may also be harassers. When an employee has contact with the person due to their employment, the harassment counts as workplace harassment.

It can range from offensive behavior, such as placing a noose on a coworker’s desk, to less obvious behavior, like repeated comments about hair texture or style. A Sacramento attorney who handles hostile work environment cases can provide an opinion about whether the behavior is harassment.

Consult a Sacramento Hostile Work Environment Lawyer

Your workplace does not have to feel like home, but it should feel safe and comfortable. When bullying and harassment keep you from doing your best at work, you may have a discrimination claim. Schedule a consultation with a Sacramento hostile work environment lawyer from Erkel Law, P.C. to discuss your situation and learn about your options.

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