There are State and Federal laws in place to protect people from working in a hostile work environment. But what is a “hostile work environment?” Is your work environment considered “hostile” because your boss or coworkers are difficult to work with? Not necessarily. Is your work environment “hostile” because your boss likes to tease people? Perhaps. It depends.
The law establishes specific criteria that define a “hostile working environment.” To be considered “hostile,” your work environment must have the following:
1) Someone’s actions – your boss or coworker – have to discriminate against a classification of people protected by the law, e.g. race, gender, religion, age, or disabled. For example, your boss may belittle someone because of their religion.
2) The action has to be severe (you cannot get away from it), continuing, and not merely a one- or two-time remark that is politically incorrect, or pervasive.
3) The action has to reach a certain level of severity. In other words, it has to prevent you from doing your job. An action could also be considered sufficiently severe if it prevents you from progressing in your career.
4) Your employer has to know about the action and do nothing about it. This requirement may be met if it is reasonable to assume your employer should have known about the action.
Our New York and New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers have the training and experience to resolve situations involving hostile work environments. You need to know your rights whether you should take immediate action in reporting the violation to a supervisor or outside agency.
If you believe you have been the victim of a hostile work environment, call us at (973) 509-8500 to schedule a free phone consultation.