Professionals like you in the San Francisco Bay area may find that they are working in hostile work environments, even though federal and California laws are in place to protect workers who suffer from harassment or other negative situations.

A hostile work environment can take many forms which could include inappropriate comments, name-calling or ridicule. These comments do not need to be made in person and they can take the form of e-mails, videos, memes or gifs. Also, harassment can be physical and can include inappropriate touching as well as offensive gestures and threats of retaliation for speaking up. The hostile work environment may spill over to other employees and affect them as well. You and other employees who are not personally subject to the harassment of others may still be disturbed by the situation, thus affecting the quality of their lives.

Employees who feel they are being harassed can opt to approach their human resources department to resolve the issue; however, if they feel that the issue is not being resolved, they may choose to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing employment law, although those wishing to make a claim may find it beneficial to educate themselves about the law first. The EEOC has a website that may be a helpful resource for general research.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers protection for several protected classes. However, it might be more difficult to prove a hostile work environment exists than you might think. Those who wish to make claims against their employers for any type of harassment in the workplace could benefit from gathering evidence to prove their cases.

Those struggling to work in a hostile environment may feel as if they are powerless, especially if they do not understand the law. However, after speaking with a trustworthy attorney who is experienced in employment law issues, they may be able to get the help they need. An attorney may offer helpful advice to move toward a favorable outcome.