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Can One Act of Harassment Be a Hostile Work Environment?

Can One Act of Harassment Be a Hostile Work Environment

When you have experienced a serious act of harassment at work, you may be wondering whether you have grounds for a lawsuit. An experienced Atlanta harassment attorney at Hall & Lampros, LLP can review your case and help you determine whether you can sue.

Many things can be considered a hostile work environment. Depending on the severity, even one act of harassment may be grounds to sue your employer. Always talk to a harassment lawyer about your case, and do not reach any assumptions on your own.

Get legal help from the harassment lawyers at Hall & Lampros when your employer has treated you wrongfully. We can work for you to get justice in the form of the financial compensation that you may deserve.

You Can Stand Up for Yourself Legally When You Have Been Harassed

There may be unfortunate times in the workplace when someone has said or done something that has made you feel that you cannot do your job without fear or embarrassment. You may try to tell yourself that it was just one instance, and you must force yourself to deal with it. Depending on the severity of the conduct, federal law does not require you to say or do nothing. You may be able to take legal action. First, you should contact an experienced harassment attorney and report the conduct to your employer through their procedures. 

Many Things Can Be Considered a Hostile Work Environment

In any discrimination or sexual harassment claim that involves a hostile work environment, the exact meaning of that term is always up for debate. Some may think that a hostile work environment is continued conduct that you must endure every day, and you cannot sue for a single incident. Federal courts are increasingly holding that one incident can be sufficient for you to successfully sue for a hostile work environment.

Under federal law, it can be considered harassment when “the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” 

Notice that the language used is “severe or pervasive” as opposed to “severe and pervasive” The words leave open the possibility that one instance of conduct could be harassment if it was severe. Nonetheless, the conduct that you are alleging must be something that is extremely intimidating or offensive and would be for the average person. For example, one court has held that physical touching in one instance could be considered severe harassment. 

One Act of Harassment Can Break the Law

Many types of conduct could be severe enough to be considered a hostile work environment. One federal court gave the example of a supervisor using an unambiguous racial epithet toward an employee in front of subordinates. What may be considered severe depends on the situation. However, there is always a possibility that some conduct could be so bad on its own that you can make a case that you have endured a hostile work environment. 

Assuming that you can show that you were the victim of a severe act, the burden would then shift to the employer to show that they reasonably tried to correct and prevent the harassing behavior. They must also show that you failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities. If your employer cannot make these showings, you may be entitled to financial compensation when a jury sides with you. 

Your Harassment Attorney Can Help Determine Whether You Have a Lawsuit

If you believe that you have experienced any act that may be considered sexual harassment, you need to contact a harassment attorney immediately. You should also document what happened as best as you can, which includes gathering any corroborating or even circumstantial evidence that you have. How you react can make a difference in a legal claim. You would need to give your employer a chance to take action, which means reporting the conduct. 

If you report illegal conduct, it is in your employer’s best interest to take you seriously and take action. If they ignore you, or worse, they try to retaliate against you, they can face significant liability in court. Many cases have even hit employers with punitive damages when they have done nothing in the face of a hostile work environment. 

Contact an Atlanta Employment Law Attorney Today

You do not have to let your employer get away with breaking the law. One call to an Atlanta harassment lawyer at Hall & Lampros could start the process of holding them accountable for what they have done. Call us today at 404-876-8100 to speak to one of our harassment attorneys during a free initial consultation.

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