Disturbingly High Number of Hostile and Threatening Workplaces

August 13, 2017

A study of 3,066 U.S. workers found that nearly one in five employees face a hostile or threatening environment at work. The unemployment rate may be at a 16-year low in 2017, but the study indicates everything is not well on the job front. It paints a grim picture of American employees facing sexual harassment, bullying, humiliation, and verbal abuse from customers while at work.

Harassment at Work

The survey specifically found 20% of workers overall had been subject to verbal abuse, harassment, or violence at work. More questions will definitely need to be asked in the next survey to provide actionable information.

For some, there are already laws designed to protect from such conduct. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, protects employees from harassment in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. However, some of the conduct (such as customer abuse) may fall outside the protection of current laws, which do not aim to eliminate every annoyance, slight or isolated incident.

The pervasive nature of the harassment and hostility found by this study is nevertheless disturbing, and the unhealthy conditions do not stop there. The survey found that many are exposed to hazards in the workplace, including handling hazardous materials or breathing unhealthy air.

Wage Theft

The survey also found that about half of employees must work on their own time to meet the demands of their job. Even more problematic, one out of ten are required to do so nearly every day.

Employers are required to pay employees for every hour worked unless they meet an exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), such as the exemption for certain salaried workers. Still, the implication of this high number is that even with these exemptions there is likely a significant amount of employees being forced to work without being paid properly. Overtime work may be unauthorized, but the employer is still responsible for paying their employees for it in certain situations.

We are familiar with both issue as a result of the work of our employment attorneys. If you are facing a hostile work environment or your employer requires time spent working while off-the-clock, please call (215) 545-8800 for a free consultation with an employment lawyer at McEldrew Purtell.