Both employees and employers owe each other certain duties. As an employee in Florida, you have a responsibility to show up to work on time and complete the work assigned to you, while your employer has an obligation to ensure and promote a safe workplace free from harassment.
Once an employee reports an incident, inaction by management can result in liability attaching to the company itself as if they have condoned the behavior by not preventing it from occurring again.
A hostile work environment can take on many different forms but generally will require you to show:
- Offensive conduct: Inappropriate comments, gestures, jokes, e-mails or messages, or physical contact can constitute offensive conduct.
- Severe and pervasive: One isolated incident is not enough. Offensive behavior must occur on a regular basis and have a significant negative impact on the work environment.
- Discriminatory in nature: Behaviors are directly related to a person’s protected characteristics (e.g., age, race, religion, etc.).
Steps to take
If you are being harassed at work, the first step is to report it to your supervisor or another management professional. This gives the employer the opportunity to remedy the situation. You should also document everything that happens in case you do need to move forward with a claim.
It is important to feel respected and appreciated by peers, colleagues, and management in a workplace setting. If the employer fails to take action, and the harassment continues, you may consult with an employment law attorney to discuss filing a claim against your employer for hostile work environment.