Skip to Content
Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP Hostile Work Environment

New York Hostile Work Environment Attorney

Holding Employers In The Tri-State 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.

How Can Our Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Help You?

At Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP, we bring a wealth of experience. We diligently investigate each case, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances and building a robust legal strategy tailored to your unique situation. Our team can assist you with:

  • Thorough Case Assessment: We can conduct a thorough evaluation of your case, examining the evidence, witness testimonies, and relevant documentation to determine the strength of your claim.
  • Client-Centered Approach: We prioritize open communication and collaboration, ensuring you are informed and involved throughout the legal process.
  • Documentation and Evidence Gathering: Building a strong case requires meticulous attention to detail. We excel in gathering and presenting compelling evidence to support your hostile work environment claim.
  • Negotiation and Mediation: When possible, we resolve disputes through negotiation or mediation, seeking amicable solutions that protect your rights and well-being.
  • Litigation: In cases where amicable resolutions are impossible, we are prepared to take your case to court. We steadfastly advocate for our clients, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights are defended.

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! 

Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP

Why Choose Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP?

  • 100+ Years of Collective Experience
  • Personalized & Compassionate Service
  • Award-Winning Legal Counsel
  • A Track Record of Success
    "Always available, conscientious and extremely knowledgeable."

    Outstanding lawyer. Always available, conscientious and extremely knowledgeable. Excellent at following-up both with his clients and with opposing counsel. Regardless of the size of the case, Brian will put in the work and always treat his clients with the utmost professionalism and respect.

    - N.W.
    "I trusted them entirely."

    I received the most compassionate and professional assistance from SP&H. I felt that Mr. Heller truly cared about me and the situation I was in. He was able to be my voice during a difficult time. He responded promptly to any correspondence, took the time to explain to me any questions or concerns, and helped ease any kind of stress that I had during a dispute with a previous employer. I highly recommend this firm. You are not just a number, they treat you like family. I trusted them entirely. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your devoted time and effort in my legal matter.

    - A.M.
    "Their integrity, personal attention, and knowledge are superior."
    Schwartz, Perry & Heller, LLP are the most skilled Lawyers for your discrimination case in the Tri-State area. Their integrity, personal attention, and knowledge are superior. They won my case and can win yours. Nothing beats the best.
    - D.K.
    "Caring, smart, highly skilled negotiators"
    Davida Perry and Brian Heller are very caring, attentive and highly skilled negotiators who gave me expert representation to win my negotiation and achieve my goals.
    - D.
    New York, NY
    "From day 1 of the consultation to the very end I felt like the most important client to the firm."
    Amazing team of Attorneys. From day 1 of the consultation to the very end I felt like the most important client to the firm. Brian Heller who I dealt with personally was amazing. Whether it was a call or email responses were very prompt and I was kept informed every step of the way. Even a few calls just to check in and say hello. Truly an incredible experience and I would recommend them to anyone seeking justice. If they take your case they will fight with you to the end. A+
    - D.W.
    "We remain tremendously grateful for his support and look forward to working with him again."
    On short notice, Brian Heller reviewed contracts with complex international dimensions and found important discrepancies that I and other senior-level executives had missed completely. He was fast, thorough, and detail-oriented in providing pragmatic advice that enabled us to be sure that we were getting the fairest and best possible treatment under the law. We remain tremendously grateful for his support and look forward to working with him again.
    - Eric
    "Davida Perry not only did an amazing job calming down my nerves but she fought for me tooth and nail and did a great job securing what my past employer owed me."
    After having a terrible experience at my last job, facing the anxiety again of having to rehash the treatment was daunting. Davida Perry not only did an amazing job calming down my nerves but she fought for me tooth and nail and did a great job securing what my past employer owed me. I won’t lie, there were moments I wanted to give up, but Davida was always there to help me stay focused and realize that I didn’t need to let them win. She was really great at countering all of their arguments, I pity anyone that would try to prove her wrong. She thought of everything we need and kept me constantly updated. Mostly what I appreciated about Davida was her kindness, and her genuine care for my mental health. She wanted to make sure I was taking care of myself during a very trying time. I cannot recommend this firm enough. They all clearly care about their clients and want to do best for you. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, and if you’re worried about the challenges that lie ahead be sure to team with Schwartz Perry & Heller, they will have your back and fight for justice.
    - T.B.
    "He was nothing but professional and incredibly responsive. I can't recommend him enough."
    Brian was extremely helpful and responsive it helping me review my first ever separation agreement. He was able to explain the legalese in a way that allowed me to understand the risks I could be taking on down the road. After speaking to him, I was able to negotiate to include additional language in my agreement that will protect my future career. He was nothing but professional and incredibly responsive. I can't recommend him enough.
    - Former Client