Defending Employees In A Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is severe or pervasive harassment in the workplace. Therefore, while one extremely cruel instance of harassment may be illegal, a hostile work environment is more typically created by a number of actions over a period of weeks, months or even years. Not all circumstances that create a hostile work environment are illegal; rather, the harassment has to be for an illegal reason.

A Focus On Protected Status

Generally, harassment creating a hostile work environment is unlawful when unwelcome verbal or physical conduct is made based on sex, race, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, or veteran or military status. It's important to seek the advice of a lawyer, if you have legal questions regarding your situation.

Attorney Alan Genitempo heads up the employment law department and can be reached at 973-542-2766 for a consultation.

Identifying Employer Tactics

Employers might illegally utilize such factors as conditions of employment status in terms of promotion, demotion, termination and compensation decisions. Specific actions which may result in a hostile work environment could include:

  • Touching in a way that may make an employee feel uncomfortable
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive manner
  • Use of racially derogatory words
  • Making offensive, disparaging or negative remarks about an individual's gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or mental or physical impairment. This type of harassment can be committed by anyone in the workplace, whether the offender is a supervisor, co-worker, contractor, or client. Additionally, victims of a hostile work environment can be any person negatively affected by the misconduct. They do not necessarily have to be those at whom the wrongdoing is directed. Ultimately, if you feel as though you are working in a hostile work environment, voice it to a manager immediately.

Employers are always accountable for the work atmosphere of their employees. Contact us online, or call us at to discuss your situation.