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Are You in a Hostile Work Enviroment? New York’s Preeminent Employment Law Firm

New York Hostile Work Environment Lawyers

Award-Winning Guidance from the Law Offices of Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP

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, or 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. The employment lawyers of the Law Offices of Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP may be able to help you if feel you may be exposed to a hostile work environment.

Do you have a question about the "Hostile Work Environment" definition? Contact our award-winning attorneys!


Not all abusive behavior is "actionable." That is, you may not always "have a case," even if your work environment is unpleasant or difficult. Rather, 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 and/or insulted to the point that the person’s job performance is affected by such an abusive work environment.

Definition of a "Hostile Work Environment?"

Whether a working environment is sufficiently hostile must be determined by both an objective standard, as viewed by a reasonable person, and a subjective standard, taking into account the victim's perception. Because the law does not recognize every unpleasant workplace as a hostile environment, the court evaluates an employer's conduct as a whole in the context of all the relevant circumstances. If the conduct could be found by a jury to have the effect of poisoning the work relationship and the environment to such a degree that the employee cannot properly focus on his or her duties, then 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 conduct 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, and the propriety of management's response upon learning of the harassment by taking prompt remedial action reasonably calculated to end the offensive conduct.

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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 hostile work environment. Therefore, if you believe that 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 might have a viable claim. The lawyers of Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP have the experience and the expertise to help you and we will be pleased to meet with you to discuss your concerns.

If you are concerned that you may be exposed to a hostile work environment, we encourage you to contact us online or call (646) 490-0221 to schedule an easy initial consultation with our New York employment lawyer. During this time, we will be able to determine whether we can help you, and you will have the opportunity to decide whether you wish to invite us to do so.