Many of us, unfortunately, experience a toxic environment in our places of work. There are times, however, that your work environment may turn hostile causing you severe mental trauma and emotional distress. Creating a hostile work environment through unlawful actions such as harassment, discrimination and retaliation is unacceptable. But, the process of taking legal action against your employer for creating a hostile work environment can be extremely challenging. It would be in your best interest to seek the counsel and guidance of an experienced Los Angeles hostile work environment lawyer who has successfully handled hostile work environment cases.
What is My Hostile Environment Lawsuit Worth?
The potential settlement value of your hostile work environment lawsuit will likely depend on the aspects of the case and the damages that the victim had to endure as a result of the defendant's actions. When you calculate the value of the settlement, it is important that you add all the damages endured including:
Monetary damages: These types of damages make up a significant portion of the damages in a hostile work environment case. Monetary damages often include lost wages compensating victims for back pay, front pay and loss of benefits. They may also include medical benefits if the victim suffered health setback because of the toxic work environment including mental health issues that required medication and counseling.
Non-monetary damages: These can be a little more challenging to calculate as they don't have a specific monetary value. Such damages include pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Punitive damages: These types of damages are meant to punish the defendant for their egregious actions and to deter them and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
What Case Value Can I Expect?
Compensation for a hostile work environment case can vary depending on the facts and circumstances. Cases may range anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million or more. The value of a hostile work environment claim depends on a number of factors including the specific details that created the hostile work environment, the length of time to which you were subjected to that environment, whether you suffered emotional distress and your wage history. All of these factors can have an impact on the value of your claim.
What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is one where the behavior or words of a supervisor, manager or coworker negatively and severely affects another employee's ability to perform their work. Any employee can be responsible for creating a hostile work environment. An employee who is simply unlikable or someone who bothers or annoys a coworker is not quite enough to create a hostile work environment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that a work environment could become hostile when:
- There is unwelcome conduct or harassment based on race, sex, age, religion, national origin or disabilities.
- The harassment is ongoing and pervasive.
- The conduct is severe enough that the environment becomes intimidating, offensive or abusive.
In the state of California, you can only file a hostile work environment lawsuit if one of the following two elements are present in your case:
- The hostility your employer showed involved discrimination
- The employer's hostile and abusive actions violated a contract between you and the employer.
For more detailed information you can continue reading learn what behaviors are considered sexual harassment, as well as our detailed guide on what is considered harassment in California.
Steps to Take While Filing a Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit
Here are some of the critical steps you would be well advised to take if you plan to file a hostile work environment lawsuit:
Contact your human resources department. The first step you should take is to report each incident to your company's human resources department. If your issues do not resolve and if your human resources department is not responsive, it is important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer who can help you.
Collect all evidence. It is important that you gather all evidence needed to support your claim including photos, videos, audio recordings of incidents of harassment, internal memos, direct messages or texts, emails and other communications between you and your employer. Eyewitness testimony from co-workers, customers or even family members that back up your claims can be extremely valuable.
File a report with an anti-discrimination agency. Before you can file a lawsuit against your employer, it is necessary to file a report with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or a state-run agency. These agencies will review your case and the approval to sue your employer.
Contact an experienced employment lawyer. If you are dealing with a hostile workplace and employer, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of a knowledgeable lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and hold your employer accountable while protecting your legal rights.
Our Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Can Help
If you have faced a hostile work environment, you can file a lawsuit against your employer, our Los Angles employment attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers can help you gather evidence, file your claim, and protect your legal rights. Documenting the hostile conduct can serve as crucial proof and can help establish that your employer knew about the hostile work environment, but did not adequately address the problem. This can help maximize the value of your hostile work environment settlement. Call us to obtain more information about how to pursue your legal rights.