One common claim that employees raise when they file employment discrimination, harassment or whistleblower lawsuits are about how their workplace became a hostile work environment. You must know what this concept describes so that you can avoid unnecessarily exposing your company to legal liability in the future.
What is a hostile work environment?
A company that allows either its management or employees to engage in marked, recurring, and unwelcome ill-treatment of certain employees based on their membership in a protected class can be considered a hostile work environment. Religion, disability, sexual orientation, country of origin, age, race and sexual orientation are all examples of protected classes.
Examples of a hostile work environment might include things like permitting racist or sexist jokes and memes, permitting a manager to use slurs in reference to employees of color or tolerating the sabotage of an employee’s work by their fellow employees because they are from a different country or adhere to a different religion.
What can you do to guard your company against trouble?
Employers can save themselves a lot of time and money by documenting their workplace policies. You may unnecessarily expose yourself to legal liability if you’re not clear in establishing worker expectations or if you fail to respond to violations of either your policies or the law in a timely fashion. Companies can minimize the chances of an employee suing them by creating an employee handbook that provides a concise description of workplace policies — and then following them.
You should also provide your employees with hands-on training on what a hostile work environment looks like and what to do if one emerges. If complaints are made, take them seriously and follow your established procedures for an investigation no matter who is involved.
A business law issues for employers attorney can help you keep your Denver company out of legal hot water so that you can focus on growing your reach within Colorado and beyond.