Legally, a work environment must meet certain criteria to be considered “hostile.” In cases where a plaintiff can demonstrate that he or she was subjected to hostile work conditions, the court may award damages. But before pursuing legal action regarding an unpleasant situation at the office, it is important to understand the legal definition of hostility.
Hostile work environments are those in which one or more employee is being harassed or discriminated against on the basis of gender, age, race, class, ethnic origin, or any other status that is considered protected. The hostility must be of a degree that interferes with the performance of work duties and must be prolonged over a period of time; in other words, one off-color joke does not create a hostile work environment.
Perhaps the most commonly recognized example is sexual harassment, which typically involves one employee harassing, discriminating against, or offering favors to another because of gender or sexual preference. Individuals who believe they are enduring a hostile work environment should contact an attorney.
About Douglas Geyman
Attorney Douglas Geyman practices employment law privately in San Diego. Geyman handles cases for clients that involve a variety of employment law issues, including wage disputes, wrongful terminations, and hostile work environments.
Federal law requires employers to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, which provides regulations that pertain to the duration of workdays and breaks, as well as salary and overtime requirements. Furthermore, employers must follow labor laws established by the states in which they operate. For example, in California, the Department of Industrial Relations oversees the enforcement of labor code statutes.
If you believe that your employer, or former employer, violated either federal or state laws with respect to your wages or breaks, you should seek legal assistance. Your local Bar Association can help you identify a local employment law attorney. Legal assistance will help you determine which regulations pertain to your job classification.
About the Author
Douglas Geyman was named one of the best lawyers in employment law by his peers in the San Diego Bar Association. Mr. Geyman has owned his San Diego practice since 1992.
Douglas Geyman is an attorney, a father, and a longstanding resident of San Diego, California. Prior to the birth of his children, Douglas Geyman was a member of several local chess clubs and participated in a number of competitive tournaments, such as the National Open Chess Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, Douglas Geyman only engages in the occasional game with his sons, but before retiring from competition, he was ranked on the national level with the United States Chess Federation.
The United States Chess Federation (or USCF) is the official organization supporting U.S. chess players and enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. Persuing its mission of “extending the role of chess in American society,” the USCF oversees the organization of tournaments and championships, publishes an informative monthly magazine, and generally promotes chess education and training throughout the United States. Whether mere novices to registered grandmasters, the members of the USCF are granted privileged access to a number of books, clubs, services, and events designed to improve performance and support the game of chess as a unique art form and an exceptional form of entertainment. To date, the United States Chess Federation has grown to include more than 80,000 members and more than 2,000 affiliated clubs and associations.
An attorney who concentrates his professional efforts in the field of employment law, Douglas Geyman was recently named one of the best attorneys in the industry by the San Diego County Bar Association. We recently sat down with Douglas Geyman at his San Diego law office to ask him a few questions on the subject of wrongful termination law.
Q: Can you please provide us with a short definition of the term “wrongful termination”?
A: A wrongful termination occurs when an employee is dismissed or laid off in a manner that impinges upon his or her legal rights. In order to successfully argue a wrongful termination case, the employee and his or her legal council must do more than merely show evidence of unfair treatment. They must prove that the firing was explicitly “wrongful” in the sense that one or more legal rights were violated during the process.
Q: What is “employment at will,” and how does it figure into wrongful termination cases?
A: Originating in England centuries ago, the legal concept of employment at will works on the assumption that employers have the right to fire individuals with or without a clearly-stated cause and, conversely, that employees have the right to resign their positions at any time and for any reason. Today, nearly every state in the union has incorporated some form of “employment at will” into their legal codes. There are, however, a number of important exceptions to the general “employment at will” principle.
Q: Can you list a few of these exceptions for us?
A: At the Law Offices of Douglas E. Geyman, we have handled cases involving prejudice and egregious discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, age, sex, sexual preference, heath issues, and workplace retaliation.