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What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment?

Facing workplace harassment is never easy. There are times though, when it can make your life at work unbearable. These situations are sometimes referred to as hostile work environments, but not everyone knows exactly what that means. Simply having a mean boss is not necessarily enough to constitute a hostile work environment. If you are the subject of harassment at work, below are some of the legal requirements a hostile work environment must meet.

The Harassment Must Be Discriminatory in Nature

In order for harassment to create a hostile work environment, it must be discriminatory in nature.Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in the work place against protected class. Employees of a certain age, race, religion, or that have a disability are just a few types of protected classes under the law. In order for harassment to constitute a hostile work environment, it must violate this law.

The Harassment Must Be Pervasive

If your employer makes a one-time remark, even if it is discriminatory in nature, that is not enough to create a hostile work environment. Instead, the behavior must be pervasive and on-going. With each incident, you should report it to Human Resources or the other appropriate party so it is documented. If the behavior continues to the point where it does create a hostile work environment, you will then have record of your complaints.

The Harassment Must Make it Impossible to Work

In order for ahostile work environment to be created, the actions must be so severe that they prohibit you from doing your job. For example, you may have to regularly work with someone else in another department. If that person regularly harasses you and it gets to the point where you feel as though you can no longer work with them, the harassment would then make it impossible to do your job.

Your Employer Does Not Take Action to Stop the Harassment

You should always report any incident of harassment to Human Resources or to your employer. Once you have reported it, your employer is required to take steps to stop the harassment from happening. If they do not and they allow the behavior to continue, that is another form of harassment. 

Additionally, if it is reasonable to assume that your employer knew of the harassment and did nothing to stop it, that is also a form of harassing behavior. For example, someone may harass you right in front of your boss. If they do not take the necessary action, you can file a harassment complaint and claim against them.

Our Employment Lawyer in Springfield Can Advise on Your Case

If you believe that you have been the victim of harassment, our Springfield employment lawyer at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, can advise you of your legal options. Call us now at (413) 785-1400 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.