Discrimination in the workplace takes many forms. In some cases, employers unlawfully terminate or fail to hire good employees due to protected characteristics such as race, sex, religion and national origin. This is discrimination. In other situations, employers encourage or allow to exist a working environment that inflicts daily abuse and humiliation on the victim. This may also be discrimination, provided the mistreatment is based on a protected characteristic.
Many behaviors can prove hostile
Here are some examples of acts that can contribute to a hostile work environment:
- Offensive jokes and comments
- Offensive photos, cartoons and other materials
- Unwanted touching or sexual advances
- Racial slurs
- Demeaning behavior
A single instance of bad behavior may not qualify as a hostile work environment, but if the behavior persists and makes it difficult for you to do your job, it crosses the line into a violation of your civil rights.
Not all mistreatment counts as discrimination in the eyes of the law. If your workplace is filled with toxic personalities, backstabbing and other negative behaviors, it may feel hostile, but may just be a bad place to work. If you can prove, however, that this treatment is based on a characteristic that is out of your control, you may have a valid legal claim.
You don’t have to endure this situation
If you work in a hostile work environment, it may seem like you have little power, but this is actually not the case. You have important rights under federal and New Mexico laws. Not only is your employer breaking the law by allowing a hostile work environment to persist, but if they try to punish you in any way for speaking up about mistreatment, they have committed retaliation, which is also illegal.
If you think you may be the victim of a hostile work environment, do not hesitate to explore legal options that can help you get out of this difficult situation.