What is the Legal Definition of a Hostile Work Environment?

The hostility that exists in a corporate environment is actually counterproductive and eats into productivity because it sucks out any individual desire to make the office work together as a team, the hostility creates small pockets of a clique. The creation of an ingroup acknowledges the creation of an outgroup.

The corporate cost can be astronomical on two counts, the first is the sheer drop in productivity, employees who dread coming to work are not likely to brainstorm ideas. Instead they are forced into small cliques that maintain a hostile and disruptive stance.

The second cost is the individual stress to the employees. They suffer from headaches, hypertension and other real or imagined symptoms, that lead to them calling in sick. They are frustrated and the brightest will leave and find a more conducive working environment. The least able stay because they feel that they cannot get another job and their productivity and creativity is also reduced.

It is therefore in the employers interest to stamp out any hostile working environment, yet in many cases it is the bosses that fan the flames of this hostile environment. They force their staff into a position where they are isolated and frustrated.

The U.S. has an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and they confer several legal rights to employees. The job of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is to enforce federal laws that prohibit employees being discriminated against. These laws protect both employees and prospective employees against employment discrimination. However whilst many people know that employment discrimination is a crime the details can be a bit fuzzy around the edges.

Employers are not allowed to show any kind of favor or discrimination on the grounds of

  • Race
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Sex
  • Ethnic origins
  • Age (over 40)
  • Genetic information.

However the issues can be slightly broader no discrimination against sex includes any discrimination against women for being pregnant. It also includes harassment by co-workers as well as employees on the above grounds.

Recently it was reported in the British press that a business told a prospective Conservative member of parliament that they would not be considered because the sight of a pregnant woman made him feel sick! American legislation extends to preventing retaliation when complaints were received on the above grounds.

However the laws are not necessarily clear cut because not all employees are protected, it does depend on the number of employees and the type of employment discrimination alleged.

Despite this any employee can lodge a”Charge of Discrimination” even if they are not protected In fact all discrimination lawsuits must be preceded by a charge of discrimination, unless the employee is filing for discrimination on the grounds of unequal. However there is a time limit against these charges and that time constraint is strictly enforced.

The charge of discrimination is what it says it is an allegation and there are no claims at all that the government agree Wit the charge. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has a legal obligation to investigate the charge of discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has the power to force the employer to disclose certain records regarding their employment policy.

The next step in the process is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issues a right to sue, which gives the employee the right to take legal action against their employers’. The employee has a year exactly to procure the right to sue, but this figure is not always the same for government workers.

One benefit about discussions with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the fact that there advice is both free and implies confidentially which means that you do not pay and they cannot take any action without your approval.

However it is crucial that you accept that their word is not necessarily written in stone – they may feel that you do not have any grounds to sue for discrimination, but a lawyer may well advise you differently. This is because defining a hostile working environment is by its very nature contentious. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tends to confine its definitions to the categories which are listed above and any other local laws, because they carry federal protection.

Sometimes that can leave you in a situation that you feel you have no options, and this is rarely the case. In most cases there are options, but you are not aware of those options. Pre-Paid Legal Services, which have a fixed low cost monthly charge provides phone consultations with labor lawyers.

Some cases are rejected because the employee has not stated to their employer that they are a victim of discrimination. However there may be valid reasons why an employee has failed to do that, they may feel that they will aggravate an already hostile working environment.

An employer has a legal responsibility to provide a mechanism for reporting experiences, that confers some levels of protection to their employees. It is often grounds of discrimination that this protection is not in place nor enforced. It is not enough to be there, an employer cannot pay lip service to this, they must make a situation safe for the employee to speak.

However some form of document is essential if only the alleged times and dates of the employment discrimination. never give your employee a letter or a document without retaining a copy. State clearly your objections and grounds of the discrimination and ask for the behavior to stop. Write down any actions from your employer in retaliation of the alleged discrimination and if possible provide witnesses. it is often best to speak to trusted colleagues outside of the working environment.

This has a two fold effect you feel less isolated and alone and are not treated as a pariah in the workforce. This reduces the stress a little. Also their is someone backing up your allegations.

Website Legal Compliance – FTC Accelerates Crackdown On Fake News Sites

We’ve all seen headlines in search results like this one – “XYZ Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam”. And perhaps we actually believed there was objective reporting or unbiased commentary behind the headline. But after reading the web page, it was clear that the headline was just a clever way to catch your attention and lure you to a sales page with an aggressive sales pitch.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has seen these headlines too, and the FTC doesn’t think they’re clever at all. In fact, the FTC believes they constitute deceptive and unfair trade practices, as indicated by the FTC’s accelerated crackdown on affiliates of a popular diet drink with aggressive weight loss claims.

Modus Operandi

The modus operandi of these sites was to start with attention grabbing headlines such as the one listed above and these additional ones – “News 6 News Alerts,” “Health News Health Alerts,” or “Health 5 Beat Health News.”

The sites presented what appeared to be a skeptical commentator who raises the question of whether the diet drink is really effective. The commentator appeared to be objective; however, after a few paragraphs the commentator would conclude that use of the diet drink would result in a 25-pound weight loss in 4 weeks – all this without changing diet or exercise according to the FTC.

The prices for the supplement ranged between $70 and $100.

The FTC’s Claims

When the FTC originally initiated law suits against these sites, Charles Harwood, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stated: “We are alleging that nearly everything about these Web sites is false and deceptive”. In addition, the FTC pointed out that the defendants aggressively promoted the deceptive ads by spending millions of dollars for placement on high volume websites resulting in millions of views by consumers and substantial sales.

Specifically, the FTC contended that the offending sites –

* failed to disclose their material relationships involving the payment of affiliate commissions with the merchants of the products;

* failed to produce independent tests to support the claims made prior to public dissemination;

* included a section of “consumer comments” that were completely fabricated;

* used infringing logos of reputable media outlets such as ABC, Fox News, CNN and Consumer Reports to give the false impression of credibility; and

* misappropriated the image of a French reporter for use on the sites.

The Settlements

The cases brought by the FTC were against six affiliates of the merchant that manufactured and supplied the weight loss supplement.

In the settlements, the defendants agreed that they will permanently cease their allegedly deceptive practice of using fake news websites. In addition, the settlements require that the defendants cease making deceptive claims about their other products, including work-at-home schemes and penny auctions which most of them promoted.

The big hammer in the settlements included fines in an aggregate amount which represented the affiliate commissions the defendants received through their fake news sites.

These settlement results clearly indicate that the FTC aggressively pursued every dollar they could under the circumstances (the final amounts left most of them with few real assets, if any):

* one defendant’s $2.5 million judgment was suspended when he pays $280,000 and records a $39,500 lien on his home;

* another defendant’s fine of $204,000 was suspended pending the payment of $13,000 plus the proceeds from the sale of a BMW automobile, and

* still another defendant was suspended pending the payment of almost $80,000 over a 3 year period.


The take-aways from these cases include –

* fake news sites are virtually guaranteed to get you sued by the FTC,

* ditto for fake testimonials or user comments,

* diet supplements of any kind are high on the FTC’s radar screen for regulatory scrutiny,

* the FTC is serious about enforcing its guidelines that affiliates are required to conspicuously disclose the fact that they are paid commissions for endorsements, and

* consistent with the FTC’s long-standing policy, advertising claims should be substantiated prior to public dissemination.

The FTC continues to make it absolutely clear that the days of the “Wild, Wild West” on the Internet, when it was open season on deceptive marketing practices, is clearly over for good.

This article is provided for educational and informative purposes only. This information does not constitute legal advice, and should not be construed as such.

The Investigation Powers of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission

The Australian Securities and investments commission has extensive powers of investigation and information gathering. These powers are not limited to the exercise of functions under chapter 7 of the corporations act because the Australian securities and investments commission can cooperate with the Australian Stock Exchange in regulation activities.

The body can receive complaints from many informal sources. Of course, complaints may be made to other bodies such as the stock exchange although its responsibilities are limited to VISTA companies and its sanctions are considered to be constrained by their contractual foundation and limited statutory supplements. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is the principal complaints handling body by reason of its statutory responsibilities and powers given to it under part three of the relevant legislation. The exercise of the statutory powers enables the body to gather information which may used to launch criminal, civil or administrative proceedings relief, remedy or other section. As noted, these powers are not limited to their application to the financial market provisions of chapter 7 but applied to the generality of provisions of the act. However, many complaints received by the commission apply to investigations made upon its own intuitive understanding of events and will not normally involve the exercise of formal powers under part three, unless informal investigation indicates a need some more formal enquiry and the exercise of coercive powers granted to the agency under part three.

An investigation conducted under the investigative powers of the agency has significance not to elicit the information of the widgets triggers for the range of may be founded upon the mere fact of the commencement or upon evidence obtained during the. First, where is the result of an investigation it appears to the agency that a person may have committed an offence against the corporations legislation and ought to be prosecuted for defence, the agency may initiate a prosecution. The agency may require a person other than the the the the water were reasonably believes can give information relevant prosecution to provide assistance. Secondly, where, following an investigation examination under part three, it appears to the agency to be in the public interest per person to sue for damages from his conduct committee in connection with the matter to which investigation examination related, or for the recovery of a person’s property, the agency may commence such proceedings in the person’s name.

Thirdly, the fact that investigation has been initiated permits the agency to seek protective orders. The agency may also release the record of an investigation to a lawyer to the proceedings were at the party, if the commencement of an investigation confer standing to seek statutory remedies of wider application. Sixthly, statements made on an examination are admissible against examinees in criminal proceedings, subject to protective provisions relating to self-incrimination and legal professional privilege. The report of the investigation itself is admissible in civil proceedings as privacy evidence and matters disclosed. So the agency does have a quite broad powers to investigate the misconduct of corporations and to gather information about these issues.