A workplace should ideally be a space where employees can innovate, collaborate with others, and thrive. Unfortunately, many employees in New York face harassment, discrimination, and intimidation at the workplace and are forced to work in a hostile environment, which not only affects their performance at work but also takes a heavy toll on their physical and mental well-being.
If your rights have been violated and your performance has been affected as a result of a hostile work environment, the top-rated New York employment law attorneys at Levine & Blit are ready to fight for you. We can evaluate your situation, determine whether you have a valid hostile work environment claim, and fight aggressively to safeguard your rights and interests. Contact us today to talk to one of our New York hostile work environment attorneys.
What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment in New York?
Under New York law, a workplace can be considered a hostile environment to work in when unwelcome conduct or discriminatory behavior based on a protected characteristic impedes or interferes with an individual’s ability to perform their job-related duties.
It’s fundamental to realize that under federal law, a workplace can be considered a hostile environment only when unwelcome, discriminatory, or abusive conduct at the workplace is pervasive or severe enough to affect a person’s work performance. This is not the case in New York.
Under the New York State Human Rights Law(NYSHRL) and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), the conduct or behavior in question does not necessarily have to be pervasive or severe to create a hostile workplace.
The legal requirements of a hostile work environment under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL include:
- You are subjected to sexual harassment or discriminatory behavior based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or any other protected characteristic.
- A reasonable person would find the work environment abusive, offensive, or intimidating.
- The behavior or conduct in question is not an isolated incident and occurs regularly.
- Your performance at work has been impacted as a result of the harassment or discrimination you are subjected to.
- Your employer is aware of or should have been aware of the problem and has failed to take action to rectify it.
In other words, anything more than petty slights and minor annoyances and inconveniences can contribute to hostility in the workplace under New York law. Employers should know how to handle hostile work environment complaint and take steps to ensure employees do not feel scared or intimidated to complain about the toxic work environment or employment discrimination if it exists.
Steps to Take If You are Facing a Hostile Work Environment
Tell the harasser to stop what they are doing. If their behavior was unintentional or playful in nature, they might listen to you and leave you alone.
If the harasser does not comply with your request, report their behavior to your immediate supervisor, manager, HR department, or any other designated authority within your organization. Make sure you follow the reporting procedures outlined in the employee handbook.
Preserve all the records of the reports and complaints you file. If the harassment or discrimination persists, keep a detailed record of it – including details like dates, times, locations, people involved, what was said or done, and how you felt.
If the initial complain or report does not lead to a favorable resolution, escalate the complaint to higher management.
Consult with a New York employment law attorney specializing in hostile work environment cases. Follow their advice and guidance on what you should and should not do at the workplace in order to build a strong case against your employer.
How the Experienced New York Hostile Work Environment Attorneys at Levine & Blit Can Help You
Assessment of Your Situation
We can listen to your side of the story, assess your situation objectively, and determine whether what you are being subjected to meets the legal criteria for a hostile work environment under state or federal law.
We can inform you of your rights under state and federal law and provide legal advice on the potential courses of action you can take.
We can advise you on how to document incidents and preserve evidence. We can gather all the physical and electronic evidence related to the hostile behavior in question, witness statements, and other evidence to build a strong case against your employer.
We can negotiate with your employer in order to reach a resolution without going through a lengthy and emotionally taxing trial. We can work to resolve the issue amicably by seeking remedies like changes in workplace policies and rules, diversity and inclusion training for employees, and a fair settlement for you.
Filing a Complaint
If negotiations fail to produce results, we can help you file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, New York State Division of Human Rights, or the New York City Commission on Human Rights – depending on the violations involved in your case.
Filing a Lawsuit
If efforts for resolution through administrative channels are unsuccessful, we can file a lawsuit against your employer in court. Throughout the legal proceedings, we might engage in settlement negotiations with your employer’s legal team to resolve the claim without going to court.
Trial Preparation and Representation
If an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, we can prepare for trial and gather all the evidence, witnesses, and experts needed to present a compelling case in court. We can make persuasive arguments to support your claim of a hostile work environment and try to recover the maximum amount of damages from your employer.
Types of Evidence We will Collect to Prove Hostile Work Environment and the Damages Caused to You
As your trusted New York employment attorneys, we understand the importance of building a strong case to prove a hostile work environment and the damages it has caused you. To achieve this, we will collect various types of evidence on your behalf to support your claims.
- Employment contracts: We will review your employment contract to identify any breaches or violations.
- Emails and communications: We will collect and review any relevant emails, text messages, or other written communication that demonstrate hostility, discrimination, or harassment.
- Personnel records: We will obtain your personnel files, which may contain performance evaluations, disciplinary records, or complaints you’ve filed.
- Company policies: We will assess the company’s policies and procedures, including their anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
- Complaints and grievances: We will gather any documentation related to formal complaints or grievances you’ve filed with the company.
We will interview colleagues, supervisors, and other relevant individuals who can provide firsthand accounts of the hostile work environment, discriminatory practices, or any witness to the damages you’ve suffered.
Photo and Video Evidence
If applicable, we will collect any photographs or videos that document hostile or discriminatory actions within the workplace, such as offensive posters, offensive gestures, or hostile workplace conditions.
If you have any audio recordings of discriminatory or hostile interactions, we will use them as evidence to support your claims.
We will obtain any incident reports or records created by the company, human resources, or management in response to complaints or incidents related to the hostile work environment.
If you’ve sought medical treatment for physical or psychological issues resulting from the hostile work environment, we will collect and review your medical records to establish a connection between your health and workplace conditions.
We will assess the financial impact of the hostile work environment, including any lost wages, bonuses, or benefits due to retaliation or discrimination.
We may consult with experts, such as psychologists or labor experts, to provide professional opinions on the damages caused by the hostile work environment.
Any additional evidence that supports your claims, such as written statements from friends and family who can attest to the impact of the hostile work environment on your well-being.
Surveillance or Monitoring Records
If relevant, we will request any security camera footage or monitoring records that may capture incidents of harassment, discrimination, or hostile behavior in the workplace.
Our robust and reliable New York employment attorneys are dedicated to seeking justice and ensuring that you receive the compensation and remedies you deserve. We’ll stand by your side throughout the legal process and aggressively advocate for your rights.
Types of Experts We May Hire to Prove Hostile Work Environment and the Damages it Caused You
In our pursuit of proving a hostile work environment and the damages it has caused you, we are committed to presenting a strong case on your behalf. To achieve this, we may enlist the expertise of various professionals who can provide valuable insights and expert testimony.
Psychologists or Psychiatrists
These experts can evaluate your mental and emotional well-being and provide assessments on how the hostile work environment has impacted your mental health. They can testify about conditions like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder that may have resulted from the workplace situation.
Human Resources Experts
HR professionals with experience in workplace investigations can provide expert opinions on whether the conduct in your workplace violated established HR standards and whether the company’s responses were appropriate or inadequate.
Labor economists can assess the financial damages you’ve suffered, including lost wages, benefits, promotions, and other financial losses as a result of the hostile work environment. They can calculate the economic impact of workplace discrimination.
Workplace Culture and Diversity Experts
These experts can evaluate the workplace culture and diversity and inclusion efforts within your organization, providing insights into how these factors may have contributed to the hostile work environment and any inappropriate behavior against you.
Vocational Rehabilitation Experts
Vocational experts can assess the impact of the hostile work environment on your ability to work and your future earning potential. They can guide career prospects and rehabilitation services.
Depending on your specific industry, we may consult with experts who have a deep understanding of the norms, practices, and culture of your field. They can provide context and insights into how the hostile environment deviated from industry standards.
If you have suffered physical injuries or health problems as a result of the hostile work environment, medical experts can provide testimony on your medical condition and link it to workplace conditions.
Communication and Linguistic Experts
In cases involving verbal harassment or discrimination, linguistic experts can analyze communication patterns, language usage, and tone to support claims of a hostile work environment.
Surveillance and Technology Experts
If electronic evidence is a significant part of your case, experts in surveillance and technology can authenticate and analyze electronic records, such as emails, text messages, or video footage.
Witness Preparation Experts
Professionals skilled in preparing witnesses can help you and other witnesses testify effectively, ensuring that your accounts are clear, persuasive, and consistent.
Our New York employment attorneys will work closely with these experts to ensure that we build a compelling case that convincingly demonstrates the existence of a hostile work environment and the damages you have suffered.
Our Top-Rated New York Hostile Work Environment Attorneys are Ready to Fight For You
At Levine & Blit, we know how a hostile workplace can impact employees’ performance, health and well-being, and overall quality of life. If you are facing a hostile work environment, we can provide you with compassionate, effective, and result-oriented legal representation and fight tirelessly to recover the restitution, monetary benefits, and job-related benefits you are entitled to under the law.
We have handled a wide range of workplace harassment and hostile work environment cases over the years and we know how to hold employers accountable for failing in their duty to provide a safe work environment for their employees.
Remember – you have rights. Let us help you protect them. Call us today at 646-461-6838 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a New York hostile workplace lawyer.