Address a hostile work environment with the right policies
Operating a work environment that harbors a welcoming attitude is not always easy. Some workers may toe the line between joking around and causing serious issues in the workplace for other employees who may take offense to certain actions. New Jersey employers have a duty to recognize signs of a hostile work environment and take any complaints from employees seriously.
In efforts to protect a workplace from harassing actions or other issues that could pose problems, employers can create policies to address how these actions could be handled. To have a policy that employers can enforce, basing the terms of the policy on applicable laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, could help. State laws could also apply, and taking cues from those laws could be beneficial when creating anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies.
In some cases, incidents perceived as harassing could be resolved among the workers. A person may confront the alleged harasser and explain why his or her actions are inappropriate, which could bring clarity to the situation. However, a victim of harassment or discrimination should be able to use the employee handbook or employment policies to know how to report hostile actions to higher-ups, such as supervisors or managers, if the problem is not easily resolved.
If employees feel that their employers did not take proper measures to prevent a hostile work environment and did not take complaints seriously, trouble could result. New Jersey employers may want to ensure that any policies they have associated with their workplace are rooted in federal and state laws to ensure their enforceability and company compliance. If employers are concerned that their policies are not enough or that they may face a legal complaint, discussing their options with experienced employment law attorneys may be helpful.