As Ohio employment lawyers, We receive calls nearly every day in which a potential client details what they believe to be a hostile work environment. Oftentimes, however, while the employee may work for a bad/rude boss, work in an unpleasant work environment, or work with a rude worker, each of these things likely does not meet the legal criteria for a hostile work environment.
In Ohio hostile work environment cases, a boss or coworker must make the employee’s job impossible and the actions of the boss or coworker must be discriminatory. In other words, the hostility in the work environment must be related to an employee’s gender, age, religion, race, disability, etc. A claim may also exist when there is sexual harassment which creates a hostile work environment.
In Ohio hostile work environment cases, courts look to whether the conduct or harassment was severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment sufficient to change the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment. Whether conduct meets the severe or pervasive threshold is subject to both a subject and an objective test. Specifically, the conduct must be severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive (objective test), and the victim must subjectively regard that environment as abusive (subjective test).
When an employee is working in an Ohio hostile work environment, the employee must report the harassing and hostile behavior in accordance with the reporting guidelines set forth in their employee handbook. In the report the employee should detail the behavior by their boss or worker that they believe to be offensive, discriminatory, and/or inappropriate. The employer should then investigate the employee’s complaint and eliminate the harassing behavior. If an employer does not have notice of the Ohio hostile work environment, the employer will not have had an opportunity to address the harassing behavior and hostile environment which will impact any subsequent legal action by an employee.
Although we have only discussed a hostile work environment created by a boss or coworker, claims may also extend to actions of non-employees, such as contractors, vendors, or guests.
If you believe you have been working in an Ohio hostile work environment, the first thing you should do is contact our Columbus hostile work environment lawyers to discuss the circumstances of your employment. Our Ohio employment lawyers will be able to determine the appropriate steps to take in order to ensure that you have a valid legal claim if you are terminated or retaliated against for reporting the hostile work environment. Feel free to contact our office to speak with Ohio employment lawyers about your rights.