Hostile Work Environment Our sole mission is to stand with you in your fight against workplace discrimination.

New York Hostile Work Environment Attorney

Holding Employers In The TriState Area Accountable

A hostile work environment exists when an employee of a company or organization experiences discriminatory workplace conduct or harassment so pervasive and so severe that the employee is fearful of going to her or his workplace for fear of being:

  • Offended
  • Intimidated
  • Being exposed to such an oppressive work atmosphere due to the behavior of the harasser

A hostile work environment is also one of two ways that may establish a sexual harassment claim. In addition, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helps to protect employees from workplace discrimination in employment settings of 15 or more people.

Our NYC hostile work environment attorney here at Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP may be able to help you if you feel you may be exposed to a hostile work environment or if you want to understand more about your rights.

Have you experienced discriminatory workplace conduct? Call Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP today at (646) 490-0221 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our hostile work environment lawyer in New York!

What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act?

Not all abusive behavior is "actionable." You may not always "have a case," even if your work environment is unpleasant or difficult. Instead, discriminatory behavior motivated by any of the bases of discrimination covered under Title VII that is so severe or so pervasive that it creates a hostile working environment violates the law.

A workplace environment becomes "hostile" for purposes of Title VII employment discrimination claims when the workplace environment is such that the victim feels:

  • Intimidated
  • Ridiculed
  • Insulted to the point that the person's job performance is affected by such an abusive work environment

What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment in New York?

Whether a working environment is sufficiently hostile must be determined by an objective standard, as viewed by a reasonable person, and a subjective measure, considering the victim's perception.

Because the law does not recognize every unpleasant workplace as a hostile environment, the court evaluates an employer's conduct in the context of all the relevant circumstances.

Suppose a jury could find the conduct to have the effect of poisoning the working relationship and the environment to such a degree that the employee cannot properly focus on his or her duties. In that case, a hostile workplace could be said to exist.

Relevant factors in evaluating whether harassing or offensive conduct has reached the level of a hostile environment may include but are not limited to:

  • The severity of the conduct
  • If such behavior was threatening or intimidating, physically
  • The frequency of the repetition of the conduct
  • The hostility and/or patent offensiveness of the conduct
  • The context of the harassing conduct
  • Whether it unreasonably interfered with an employee's work performance
  • The propriety of management's response upon learning of the harassment by taking prompt remedial action reasonably calculated to end the offensive conduct

How To File a Hostile Work Environment Claim in New York?

Filing a hostile work environment claim typically involves several steps and varies depending on the circumstances of your case. The following is a general guideline for filing a claim for a hostile work environment. For more specific information related to your case, please schedule a consultation with our NYC hostile work environment attorneys.

  • Document the Incidents: Keep detailed records of the incidents that contribute to the hostile work environment. Include dates, times, locations, people involved, and descriptions of what happened. Include any relevant emails, messages, or other communication.
  • Understand the Definition: Familiarize yourself with the legal definition of a hostile work environment: “A hostile work environment exists when one's behavior within a workplace creates an environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for another person to work in, due to illegal discrimination”.
  • Review Your Company’s Policies: Thoroughly review your company's policies on harassment, discrimination, and reporting procedures. These policies often outline the steps you need to take to report such incidents.
  • Internal Reporting: Before taking legal action, it's recommended to report the issue to your company's HR department, a supervisor, or a designated reporting authority.
  • File a Formal Complaint: If the internal reporting doesn't lead to a resolution, you may need to file a formal written complaint with your HR department or relevant authorities. Be sure to include all relevant details and evidence.
  • External Reporting: File a complaint with an external agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the United States. Your attorney can help you understand the appropriate agency to contact in your region.
  • Collect Evidence: Collect any evidence that supports your claim, such as emails, messages, witnesses, and any other documentation that demonstrates the hostile work environment.
  • Legal Action: If internal and external avenues fail to address the situation, you may need to consider legal action, which could involve filing a lawsuit against your employer for allowing the hostile work environment to persist.

The process of filing a hostile work environment claim can vary significantly based on your location and the specific circumstances of your case. It's crucial to consult with an experienced employment lawyer in NYC who can guide you through the appropriate steps based on your situation and jurisdiction.

Can I Sue My Employer for Creating a Hostile Work Environment?

To have grounds to sue your employer for creating a hostile environment, you must be able to prove that you were subjected to offensive and unwelcome conduct that ultimately affected your working conditions. Legally, you will only be able to have a confirmed case if your employer discriminated against you based on a protected characteristic such as race or gender. Yelling at you all day would not be characterized as discrimination, and the court would not rule in your favor.

How Do You Prove a Hostile Work Environment in NYC?

Proving a hostile work environment in New York can be a complex and legally sensitive matter. A hostile work environment is typically defined as a workplace where harassment, discrimination, or other unlawful conduct makes it impossible or very difficult for an employee to perform their job effectively. To prove a hostile work environment, you generally need to establish the following elements:

  • Unlawful Discrimination or Harassment: Identify the specific discriminatory or harassing behavior you're experiencing. This can include actions, comments, jokes, slurs, insults, or any other offensive conduct related to your race, gender, age, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics. Keep a detailed record of incidents, including dates, times, locations, people involved, and any witnesses. Documentation is crucial to your case.

  • Frequency and Severity: Show that the behavior is frequent and severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Isolated incidents are generally not enough unless they are particularly egregious.

  • Employer Knowledge: Demonstrate that your employer was aware of the behavior or should have been aware of it. This often involves reporting the incidents to your supervisor, HR department, or another appropriate authority within your organization. Document any actions taken (or not taken) by your employer in response to your complaints.

  • Failure to Take Appropriate Action: Show that your employer did not take reasonable steps to address the situation. Such as failing to not conduct a proper investigation, failed to discipline the offending party, or not implementing measures to prevent further harassment.

  • Adverse Impact on Your Work: Explain how the hostile work environment has affected your ability to perform your job. This could include emotional distress, physical symptoms, missed workdays, or a decline in job performance.

If you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment, get in touch with our New York employment law attorneys as soon as possible. We can advise you on how to begin documenting your claim and best prove the hostility you have been experiencing.

Contact Our NYC Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Today

Courts will consider in totality any or all of these and other factors and circumstances to determine whether conduct by your employer, coworkers, or supervisors was sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a claim of a hostile work environment. Therefore, if you believe your employer is maintaining a hostile work environment that interferes with your work performance, you may wish to consult with an attorney to determine whether you have a viable claim. The Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP hostile work environment lawyers have the experience and expertise to help you, and we will be pleased to meet with you to discuss your concerns.

Looking for a NYC hostile work environment attorney near you? Contact Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP to schedule a FREE consultation today!

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