How to Document a Hostile Work Environment

By: JML Law | May 26, 2022.

California workers have a legal right to work in environments where they do not have to worry about being harassed or unreasonably mistreated. If you have been denied this right, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit.

To win your case, you need to prove that you were employed in a hostile work environment. A Los Angeles employment law attorney at JML Law can assist you with this task.

However, there are certain steps you can take on your own to document the fact that your work environment was or is hostile. Doing so is key to optimizing your chances of holding an employer accountable.

Ways to properly document a hostile work environment include the following:

File a Complaint

You may have understandable concerns when deciding whether you should file a complaint with your employer’s HR department if you believe you have been mistreated at work. You might believe that HR will do little to remedy the problem. Perhaps you even fear that filing a complaint will lead to some form of retaliation against you if your supervisor (or whoever else happens to be the target of your complaint) learns that you have “gone behind their back” and spoken with HR.

Even if these concerns are valid, it’s still wise to address the circumstances internally, regardless of whether you plan to enlist the help of a lawyer immediately after doing so. You need to be able to cite proof indicating your concerns were strong enough that you felt the need to reach out to HR letting them know about your poor treatment.

Take Notes

You can’t be vague when explaining why your work environment qualifies as hostile. You cannot win your case easily if you are merely making general claims about the nature of the workplace and its impact on your productivity.

It’s critical that you are able to describe specific instances of harassment or other forms of hostility. Thus, whenever an instance of harassment occurs, at the very least, make note of it. Write down the date, time, and setting of the incident, along with a detailed description of what happened. You should also make a list naming both the people directly involved in the incident and anyone who may have witnessed it.

Save All Materials Relevant to Your Case

If you are working in a genuinely hostile environment, you may have received emails, text messages, voicemail messages, letters, and other forms of communication that can serve as evidence proving the environment in which you have been employed is not a safe or healthy one. Be sure to save every single one of these materials. Strongly consider making copies or backing up digital files as well to minimize your chances of accidentally losing evidence. These materials can play a major role in your case’s outcome.

Be sure to bring any documentation you may have with you when meeting with our Los Angeles employment law attorneys at JML Law as well. When discussing your case, we will review the evidence to determine how it can be leveraged to your advantage. For more information, contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

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