New York & New Jersey Hostile Work Environment Lawyers
Some employees are forced to work in an atmosphere that feels hostile, even toxic, at times. What many workers do not realize is that they are legally protected from working in a hostile environment. Defining a hostile work environment is complicated. In order for a workplace to meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment, the actions, conduct or attitudes expressed or permitted by your employer must have an element of discrimination.
Unlawful harassment that amounts to a hostile work environment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the law protects workers from a hostile work environment, it can be very difficult to determine whether your specific circumstance amounts to a legally protected claim under federal law.
If you believe that you have been forced to work in a hostile environment, contact the New York and New Jersey employment discrimination attorneys at the Ginarte law firm today by calling 888-GINARTE (446-2783). You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.
When Is a Work Environment Hostile?
A rude, demeaning or offensive boss is not, in and of itself, enough to form the basis of a hostile work environment claim under federal law. In order for a work environment to be considered hostile for purposes of a Title VII lawsuit, there must be a discriminatory motive behind the behavior. A hostile work environment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race, religion or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
A victim of a hostile work environment must prove that he or she was subject to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of his or her inclusion within a protected class, as well as showing that the conduct was sufficiently pervasive or severe that it created a hostile work environment. In addition, the victim must prove that the conduct was both subjectively and objectively offensive. In other words, would a reasonable person who is part of the same protected class of individuals find the conduct offensive.Federal law does not protect an employee from teasing, offhand comments, workplace banter or isolated incidences of rude or offensive conduct. An employer is under no obligation to be considerate, kind or pleasant in the workplace. A hostile work environment claim requires more than an allegation of a rude or inconsiderate boss. A court will typically look at the severity of the conduct as well as the frequency of the conduct when determining whether the conduct has reached the threshold for protection under Title VII. The court will also look at whether the conduct has or was intended to unreasonably interfere with the worker’s employment.
Common Examples of What May Constitute a Hostile Work Environment
Each case is unique and requires an evaluation of all the facts before a determination can be made as to whether a hostile work environment exists. There are some common examples of situations that may result in a legal finding that a hostile work environment exists. These include:
- Verbal comments that are intended to belittle or offend someone if the comments are based on the individual’s age, gender, sexual orientation, race or any other protected class.
- Leering, staring, grabbing, touching or making sexually suggestive comments.
- Telling sexual jokes, sending sexually explicit e-mails or written correspondence or circulating anything of a sexual nature aimed at the employee.
- Verbal remarks, gestures, jokes or written correspondence intended to offend a specific racial or ethnic group.
- Negative or derogatory comments about an employee’s religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, age or any other protected class.
Exactly where the line is drawn between working in an uncomfortable work environment and a legally hostile work environment is not always clear. If you believe someone is making your work environment uncomfortable to the point where it is affecting your job performance, then you could be the victim of a hostile work environment.
Contact Our NY/NJ Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Today
The best way to determine whether you have been subjected to a hostile work environment is to consult with an experienced hostile work environment attorney. Contact the workplace discrimination lawyers at Ginarte Gonzalez & Winograd to find out what legal options you may have. Contact the firm today by calling 888-GINARTE (446-2783) for your free consultation, or fill out our online contact form.