Hostile Work Environment
Pursuing Legal Action for a Hostile Work Environment
In various industries across the nation, there are dangers that may exist simply because of the nature of the job. Construction workers, industrial employees, and plant workers all face everyday dangers due to chemicals, large machinery, and more. However, countless Americans face other dangers in the workplace--a hostile work environment caused by their employer or another co-worker, making it nearly impossible to work.
Unfortunately, this situation is more common than most people think. There are times when sexual harassment or hostile work environment harassment can turn into a physical altercation at work. This type of situation puts you and others in harm’s way. As a result, you may suffer serious damage at the hands of someone you are expected to work with on a daily basis.
Our workers’ comp attorney can help you understand when it’s necessary to file a hostile work environment lawsuit or when workers’ compensation laws come into play. Below, you’ll learn the hostile work environment definition, as well as your legal rights whenever you suffer physical or mental injuries because of this very difficult situation.
Can I Sue My Employer for Creating a Hostile Work Environment?
Before you go through any legal methods to determine your options for filing a suit against your employer, you must know the various examples of a hostile work environment. This knowledge can help you understand when your claim falls under employment law for harassment or discrimination, and when you can file a claim under workers’ compensation California law.
First ask yourself, what is a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is any workplace in which the actions of a co-worker or employer make it difficult or even impossible for you to complete the day-to-day tasks of your job. Even more pressing is when the actions become physical and force you to suffer a workplace injury.
What behaviors are considered criteria for a hostile work environment? Learn about them below:
What is Necessary to Prove a Hostile Work Environment?
When you need to file hostile work environment cases against those responsible for your harm, it’s vital to recognize how to prove a hostile work environment. Of course, you can show you suffered injuries because of someone else’s reckless or malicious actions, but you must also take steps to show that it happened in the workplace and it falls under the criteria of a hostile work environment.
Here are a few things you’ll want to prove a hostile workplace:
Unfortunately, insurance companies will try to say you’re not injured or you didn’t suffer harm in the workplace if it means they can protect their profits. You need to work with a hostile work environment lawyer to pursue the justice you need in this challenging time.
Who is Responsible for a Hostile Work Environment?
In employment law matters and workers’ compensation claims alike, you need to work to determine who is responsible for a hostile work environment that causes you severe injuries. This is because there are many obstacles that can create confusion for the insurance company and result in you having your claim wrongfully denied.
For instance, if you travel to different companies for your job and the hostile work environment you encounter is at the other company, not your own, what do you do? There are specific nuances in these types of cases. In order to receive workers’ comp benefits in this situation, you want to have a workers’ compensation attorney on your side to determine who is responsible.
However, in most situations, two parties play a role in a hostile workplace, including your employer or a co-worker. Your employer can be responsible for a hostile work environment in a number of ways. First, they may be the person causing you harm in the first place. He or she may be the party responsible for the physical or mental abuse you endure. However, even if he or she is not the one causing you harm, your employer can still be held responsible if he or she does nothing to stop the abuse or harassment from occurring.
Your co-workers are those you work with more often than anyone else. They’re often in the same vicinity as you, and you have access to each other quite regularly. This can create problems when one of your co-workers becomes difficult to deal with and creates a hostile workplace. They may not have the same power, but it can still feel like it’s difficult to report the incident out of fear of further hostility.
Can My Employer Retaliate for Reporting a Dangerous Workplace?
One of your biggest fears in this situation may be your employer and what he or she will do if you report a hostile work environment. Will he or she retaliate and harass or bully you further? Will he or she threaten to diminish your role and wages with the company? Even worse, will he or she threaten to fire you from the company simply because you tried to make it safer for yourself and others around you?
California is an at-will state, meaning employers can terminate an employee’s contract at any time and for any reason. However, when it comes to situations of an employee reporting a hostile work environment, there are laws in place that protect workers from retaliatory actions by the employer. Simply put, your employer is not legally allowed to fire you, harass you, bully you, or threaten you if you report a dangerous workplace.
While your employer may try to scare you into rethinking your report, know that you can have legal representation on your side to protect your rights. You can fight back against retaliation to safeguard your wages and long-term employment without fear of your boss taking action based on your report.
If your employer does try to fire you simply because you made a report of a hostile work environment, you can take even further action against him or her. This includes suing your employer for lost earning potential, mental trauma, and more.
What Can I Expect from Workers’ Comp Benefits?
You may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits when the hostile work environment results in you suffering severe injuries. These benefits can be used for numerous reasons, but typically, the benefits are categorized based on the severity of your injury, how long you are going to be out of work, and your ability to still work in a different capacity.
For instance, if you suffer injuries that prevent you from standing--which was required in your previous position--you may receive training in a new position that allows you to sit down. If this new position pays less, you can seek workers’ comp benefits that help you supplement the losses from your original pay grade to your new income.
If you suffer more severe injuries and you are permanently disabled, workers’ comp benefits may reflect this. You may receive a percentage of your total income for the length of the injury if it lasts longer than a specific time period under California law. A lawyer can help you best understand how to calculate your potential benefits and the length for which you may receive them.
Many people wonder when workers’ comp benefits end. Typically, they end when you can return to work. Unfortunately, some insurance companies will try to find ways to end it much sooner so they no longer have to continue paying you to supplement your income. Working with someone who understands the laws and how long you can legally be covered under workers’ compensation benefits can help you protect the income and health benefits you deserve.
Let Our Attorneys Help You File a Claim
While workers’ compensation claims are often necessary following a hostile work environment causing physical injuries, they’re not always easy to endure. Many workers walk away from their claims feeling defeated after the insurance company denies their requests. Unfortunately, many of these denials are a result of minor errors--some are because the insurance companies will do anything to protect profits.
Even if you receive a claim denial, though, you should not stop your journey. Most workers’ comp claims receive initial denials, but that doesn’t mean the decision cannot be appealed. In some situations, you can work to correct your paperwork and provide additional information proving the severity of your injuries and showing your need for benefits. Working with a workers’ comp lawyer can help you get the results you need.
At Ozeran Law, we know just how important it is to receive the workers’ comp settlement you need to move forward. A hostile work environment made it impossible for you to work. You suffered an injury, and now you’re unable to earn an income. Life doesn’t have to be this way. You have the right to pursue benefits through workers’ comp insurance so you can live life as comfortably as possible following such a devastating situation.
Our Simi Valley workers’ compensation attorney is ready to go above and beyond with your rights in mind to protect your ability to receive benefits. We believe that if you have been wronged by your employer or another co-worker, you should be able to fight for what’s yours. Let us be your voice throughout the entire process and put our experience to work for you.
To learn more about your rights and options to file a workers’ comp claim after an injury due to a hostile work environment, we encourage you to call our firm at (805) 870-8188 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to being your partner in your pursuit of justice.