What Are My Legal Options if I’m in a Hostile Work Environment in Ohio?

Jun 21, 2018
By Peter Friedmann
Hostile Work Environment EEOC

One of your most important rights as an employee is that you can demand that harassment and discrimination by co-workers, managers, and even customers or clients end. Federal and Ohio hostile work environment laws protect this right, but you may need to partner with an Ohio hostile work environment attorney to ensure your employer takes appropriate actions or compensates you for failing to meet its legal obligations to ensure you are not subjected to a hostile work environment.

How to Know If You Have a Hostile Work Environment in Ohio

The first and most important thing to know is that the term “hostile work environment” is often misunderstood by those without knowledge of the law.  An Ohio hostile work environment does not exist if there is a personality conflict.  An Ohio hostile work environment only occurs if it is based on a protected class, like disability, race, gender, pregnancy, national origin, sexual orientation or religion.  Sexual harassment is a form of hostile work environment because sexual harassment is based on gender.  Other examples include: repeated derogatory comments and/or bullying based on a disability.  Bullying, alone, is not a hostile work environment in Ohio.

Knowing this, if you believe you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, seeking remedies for being subjected to a hostile work environment requires taking several steps that begin with recognizing the hostility and often filing an Ohio hostile work environment lawsuit. Enlisting the advice and representation of a hostile work environment lawyer who is committed to protecting employees from mistreatment and abuse can be essential to receiving justice and ensuring that other people do not have to experience what you did.

Understand What Makes a Hostile Work Environment

Hostile work environments in Ohio exist in many forms. Each hostile work environment, however, shares at least three characteristics:

  • One or more employee is discriminated against or harassed because of his or her sex, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or disability;
  • The mistreatment is severe and persistent; and
  • The discrimination or harassment makes it difficult or impossible for the targeted individual to do his or her work or stay on the job at all. This is often called “severe and pervasive.”

If you regularly receive insults, get denied promotions and training opportunities, get assigned to the most dangerous or hazardous tasks, or get propositioned for sexual favors, then you may be working in a hostile environment. Be aware, however, that courts generally do not consider either a single off-color or bigoted comment or a one-time request for a date evidence of hostility unless what happened was so egregious that it inflicted an injury or showed real intent to cause harm.

Report Hostile Behaviors or Practices to HR or a Trusted Supervisor

Employers are required by law to have policies and procedures in place to investigate and resolve reports of discrimination and harassment. Courts expect individuals who file hostile work environment cases to have gone through their employer’s process.  If you don’t report it, you cannot expect the employer to remedy it.  There is an exception for those who are being harassed by an immediate supervisor or owner of the company.  You need to speak with an Columbus sexual harassment attorney in order to determine if and how you should report your concerns. Speaking with an employees’ rights attorney before filing a complaint with your company can help you prepare for what can be a difficult interaction during which you will be expected to provide evidence of someone else’s illegal actions.

Do Not Accept Retaliation

Federal and Ohio hostile work environment laws make it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report harassment or discrimination. In practical terms, this means that you cannot be demoted, reassigned, fired, or yelled and screamed at for making a report. If any of that happens, you can have grounds for seeking compensation for both the retaliation and the hostile work environment.

File an EEOC Complaint if Necessary

When your employer fails to investigate your report of hostility or fails to take actions to end the discrimination or harassment, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency will conduct its own review of your initial report and of what your employer did or did not do. The EEOC may then engage the employer in a process to fix problems, file a hostile work environment lawsuit on your behalf, or issue a letter expressing its belief that you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit in your own name.

File a Hostile Work Environment Lawsuit When Nothing Else Solves the Problem

Federal district courts and Ohio’s common pleas courts handle most hostile work environment lawsuits. An initial decision may also get appealed to a federal circuit court. Winning a case can result in receiving cash damages, receiving back pay with interest, getting rehired, and securing an order for the employer to rewrite its policies on harassment and discrimination.

You can request a confidential consultation with a dedicated employees’ rights attorney be calling The Friedmann Firm at 614.610.9755 or connecting with us online. Do not suffer in a hostile work environment.