Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. In Florida, employees are legally protected from hostile work environments, but many don’t understand the extent of their rights under state and federal law.
In this article, we’ll go over what’s considered a hostile work environment to help Florida employees better understand their legal protections.
What Defines a Hostile Work Environment in Florida?
A work environment may be considered hostile if one or multiple employees are subject to discrimination, harassment, bullying, or offensive comments. These actions compromise the reasonable expectation of a safe, comfortable work environment.
It’s important to note that while some actions in a workplace may be frustrating, like a demanding boss or an irritating co-worker, they may not legally be considered hostile unless they involve discrimination or harassment.
When is a Hostile Work Environment Considered Illegal?
To be considered a hostile work environment under Florida and federal law, the following requirements must be met:
- The behaviors or comments must demonstrate discrimination against an employee’s race, religion, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.
- The behaviors or comments must be serious enough to significantly compromise your ability to work normally, receive a promotion, or progress in your career.
- The behaviors or comments must be considered pervasive, meaning that they occur more than once over time.
- Your employer was aware of the behaviors or comments and didn’t intervene.
Additionally, note that companies must have at least 15 employees (20 for age-related claims) to be recognized by federal anti-discrimination laws.
Taking Legal Action for a Hostile Work Environment
The first step to take against a hostile work environment is to ask the individual to stop the hostile behaviors or comments in the form of an official complaint. Employees are legally protected against retaliative actions for this type of complaint.
If this doesn’t resolve the problem, gather documentation proving that your employer was aware of the hostile actions and didn’t mediate. Report the behaviors to the management or human resources department.
When these actions fail, you can seek legal support from the experienced attorneys at Weldon & Rothman, PL, who are highly experienced in employment law matters, including hostile work environments. Contact us today to schedule a free case review!