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What is a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Employment Discrimination

Some jobs can be challenging to go to each day. You may dislike your coworker’s lackadaisical attitude, find your boss too abrasive or get tired of dealing with demanding customers daily.

However, if the coworkers’ or employers’ actions violate the Fair Employment Practices law by discriminating against protected categories of individuals, you may have the right to pursue legal action against your employer because of the hostile work environment.

What are the requirements to qualify as a hostile work environment?

While working in a job you dislike is not ideal, specific situations must arise to be able to label a work environment as hostile. The courts consider a workplace as hostile if you experience physical or verbal abuse that is so severe that it alters your work experience and interferes with your ability to perform your job.

What are the protected categories under the Fair Employment Practices Law?

Not all verbal unpleasantries qualify as hostility. The state requires statements must violate the discrimination laws of specified categories of people. Hostility can include derogatory comments made regarding the following things:

  • Religion
  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Disability
  • Skin color

While there may be some interpretation of what another person considers discriminatory, if you believe comments made to you violate this law, it is always good to report it.

Do courts consider the emotional impact of hostile work environments when awarding damages?

Working in a hostile environment for a long time can take an emotional toll on you. If you experience mental health issues such as anger, humiliation or grief, these may fall under emotional distress. Courts do consider this when making judgments.

Knowing what qualifies as a hostile work environment might encourage everyone to take action to stop this activity.