If you’re reading this page, you’re likely experiencing upsetting and traumatizing behavior from others at work. Maybe your boss is excluding you from meetings or ridiculing you. Or perhaps your co-workers are calling you racial or ethnic slurs. Whatever the behavior, you’ve decided that enough is enough, and you might be wondering, How do I file a hostile work environment claim?The exact filing process depends on whether you wish to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Arizona Civil Rights Division. This article will discuss the filing process for both pathways. However, it’s important to consult an Arizona employment attorney who can help you make strategic decisions and file your claim properly.
What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?
Filing a hostile work environment claim starts with understanding what a hostile work environment is. A hostile work environment claim arises from unwanted, offensive conduct that is based on protected characteristics like religion, sexual orientation, race, color, or disability. In addition, one of the following must be true:
- Enduring the harassment becomes a condition of staying at your job, or
- The conduct is so severe and widespread that a normal person would consider the work environment intimidating or abusive.
Examples of behaviors that could create a hostile work environment include:
- Using racial slurs,
- Telling offensive jokes,
- Committing physical assaults,
- Making threats,
- Using mockery, and
- Displaying offensive pictures.
However, the behavior must be persistent to qualify as creating a hostile work environment. An occasional off-color joke or tense interaction would not qualify. Put another way, you’re looking for three key things: discriminatory intent, consistency, and intensity.
How to File a Hostile Work Environment Claim
If your experience resembles the above description, then you should file a hostile work environment claim right away. You can file a hostile work environment claim in either federal or state court.
Filing a State Claim
Going the state-specific route means filing a claim with the Arizona Civil Rights Division (CRD). Begin this process by visiting the Arizona Attorney General’s website and filing a Civil Rights complaint form. Prepare to list all kinds of specific details, including the responsible party, the basis of the discrimination, and your own personal information. You must file with the CRD within 180 days of the last incident of harassment. Even if earlier incidents of harassment occurred more than 180 days before the date you filed your complaint, the CRD will investigate these earlier incidents as well.
Filing a Federal Claim
File a federal hostile work environment claim with the EEOC. You can do this online using the EEOC’s public portal. You can also submit your complaint in person at an EEOC field office, by telephone, or by mail. Generally, you have 300 days to file a complaint after the latest incident of harassment.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Hostile Work Environment Claim?
No, you don’t. It is perfectly legal to file a claim yourself. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should—as representing yourself is risky. Without an attorney’s assistance, you’ll have to navigate the labyrinth of federal and state administrative procedures on your own. If you misunderstand any procedural requirements, it can torpedo your claim before you even get in front of a judge.
Consulting a lawyer before filing a complaint has several advantages. First, a qualified employment attorney can help you understand the legal landscape. They can give you insight into how agencies will process your hostile work environment claim, what they look for, and what you can expect down the road.
Second, an attorney can help you understand whether you have a viable hostile work environment claim. They’ve spent years or decades representing clients in similar situations, so they can quickly evaluate your situation.
Third, they can represent you before either the CRD or EEOC. This means you can maximize your chances of prevailing on your claim and obtaining compensation for your losses. And finally, having an attorney represent you makes your life easier and lets you concentrate on salvaging your own well-being or finding a new job.
Want Help Filing Your Hostile Work Environment Claim? You’ve Come to the Right Place.
Enduring a hostile work environment is stressful enough on its own. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to maneuver through the complex world of state and federal administrative law alone. Instead, trust an outstanding law firm to be your voice and your defender.Shields Petitti & Zoldan, PLC is a premier law firm based in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Unlike many other firms, we have extensive experience representing every kind of client. In addition, our attorneys have 50 years of combined experience fighting for fair workplaces and employees’ rights. We’re not afraid to use a combination of strategies to secure the compensation you deserve. Because of our passionate and specialized approach, we’ve obtained approximately $25,000,000 for our clients throughout the years. Join the ranks of satisfied clients today by calling us or visiting our website.