America is a fairly litigious society, although we’re not quite as bad as our reputation suggests. The truth is, there are good reasons for many of the civil lawsuits that are currently winding their way through the court system.
There are far fewer frivolous lawsuits out there than it may seem. When we think of “legal liability,” we often think of in terms of someone slipping and falling on a wet grocery store floor because the employees didn’t put out a “caution wet floor” sign. Or we might think of it as someone suing for medical bills after a texting driver plows into their car at an intersection.
We think of it less often when it comes to our workplace, but there are multiple ways in which our employers or even coworkers can be held liable for some sort of negligence or wrongdoing.
The term “sexual harassment” has been in the news a lot lately. More and more women are coming forward with allegations against high-powered Hollywood players as well as musicians, artists, and politicians.
The effects of this sexual misconduct reckoning are being felt outside those communities as well. People are realizing that sexual harassment encompasses a wider range of behaviors than the really obvious stuff. By “obvious stuff,” we’re talking about a boss who offers his secretary a pay raise in exchange for sexual favors.
Sexual harassment depends a lot on the particular circumstances, but it can even be something like one employee spreading disparaging rumors about another employee’s dating life. The laws vary from state to state and even city to city, so if you feel like you might have a case against someone in your office, it’s important to look for a local attorney.
It doesn’t matter where you live so much as where you work. If you work in Pasadena but commute to a job in Los Angeles, that means you’re better off looking for a los angeles sexual harassment lawyer.
Employees can be hesitant to bring a sexual harassment case because they fear retaliation, but there are typically laws in place that prevent firing or punishing an employee who is reporting misconduct. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to address the behavior in other ways first, but it’s all too easy to reach a point where HR isn’t listening and no one else inside the office seems to care what’s happening.
The term “unsafe conditions” means different things to different workplaces. A restaurant kitchen will need to take more extensive precautions against fire than a typical office where the only cooking appliance is the microwave inside the break room.
That said, there are certain things that are true across all offices. Employees need to have an easy way to get out of the building in case of a fire or other emergency. If you work in a cramped back office where the nearest door only opens half the time, then that’s a serious issue.
You can report your office to local or state workplace safety organizations. If an emergency occurs and you’re injured because you had trouble getting out, then you might have a legal case against your employer, although that will depend on a lot of factors.
A lawyer, particularly a commercial litigation lawyer, can hear your story and advise you further.