Intimidating work environment definition


01-Feb-2020 09:11

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In today’s Fast Legal Answers series, I’ll be defining and explaining what a “hostile work environment” is. How does it relate to discrimination and protected classes?I hear this phrase thrown around so much that I think many people don’t actually know what a actually is. After reading this article you will know the legal definition of a hostile work environment, and should have a better idea of what is, and what is not, legally recognized as a hostile work environment.Harassment based on sex, race, national origin, or religion, can interfere with the terms and conditions of employment and therefore can, when sufficiently severe, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"). This standard requires that the environment be both objectively and subjectively offensive. Otherwise stated, for actionable harassment to exist, a reasonable person must be able to find the work environment hostile or abusive, and the victim must actually perceive it to be so.As recently as the 1980s, harassment claims were only rarely pursued, comprising only 3% of all discrimination charges filed with the U. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in that decade. Unfortunately, there is no bright line test to determine whether an environment is sufficiently hostile or abusive.

This case seems to fall into the extreme half of the continuum.

However, as you can see above not only must the environment be intimidating, hostile, and/or offensive, the hostility you are enduring .

This means that if your boss is a jerk to everyone including you, you won’t have a hostile work environment claim–the harassment must be based on your membership in legally recognized protected class.

More typically, however, the hostile work environment is created through a variety of incidents.

Some incidents may involve touching, while others are merely comments. Some conduct may be directed at the alleged victim and some may simply occur in his or her presence.To illustrate, your boss not liking you because you are fans of rival sports teams, is not actionable discrimination.