California’s employment law helps workers recognize and deal with a hostile work environment. If you suspect that your workplace qualifies under this definition, you have rights.

Recognizing a hostile work environment

Someone on the job makes it difficult for you to do your work. His or her actions or words have a significantly adverse impact on your ability to do the tasks in your job description. It’s important to note that these words or actions may come from supervisors or coworkers.

This doesn’t mean that the coworker clipping his toenails in the break room qualifies as creating a hostile environment. Instead, the hostility must meet legal definitions. For example, the toe-clipping employee harasses you about your religion, race, age or disability.

Maybe a supervisor makes ongoing snide comments about your pregnancy or marital status. Moreover, this harassment isn’t a one-time thing. It’s ongoing and so severe that it turns your place of employment into an abusive setting.

Employment law protects you

You tried to deal with the unwelcome behavior. Maybe you reported it to a manager. However, there was no change. Harassment or discrimination continues. It’s impairing your ability to function at the workplace. You dread being there.

The law protects you, but it requires you to prove the case. Therefore, keep a log of interactions. Highlight the times and dates that you told the person his or her conduct was unwelcome. If there were witnesses to the behavior, get their statements. Print out copies of harassing emails. Create a paper trail that shows you complained.

If you find yourself in a hostile work environment, it may be worth your time to speak with an employment law attorney to protect your rights.