Elements of a Hostile Work Environment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against employment discrimination. In particular, it protects against discrimination that unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Anyone in the workplace who contributes to the hostile work environment can commit this type of harassment, including management, co-workers, and even non-employees like contractors, vendors or guests. And anyone in the workplace affected by this conduct can be a victim of hostile work environment discrimination, not just the person targeted by the offensive behavior.
Conduct that indicates you may be the victim of sexual hostile environment harassment includes:
- Leering or staring in a sexually suggestive manner
- Making offensive remarks about looks, clothing and body parts
- Touching in a way that makes you uncomfortable, like pinching or intentionally brushing against you or bumping into you
- Telling sexual or obscene jokes or hanging sexual posters
- Sending, forwarding or soliciting sexually suggestive letters, notes, emails or images
Other conduct that can lead to hostile work environment harassment includes:
- Using racially derogatory words, phrases or epithets
- Comments about skin color or other racial or ethnic disparities
- Making disparaging remarks about your gender
- Making negative comments about your age if you are 40 or older
- Making insulting or intimidating comments about a mental or physical impairment or disability
If comments or behaviors like these routinely make you uncomfortable at work or affect your work performance, you may want to consider filing a hostile work environment discrimination lawsuit.