Hostile Work Environment

Knowledgeable Employment Attorney Serving New York City and Beyond

Employers are not allowed to permit discriminatory comments and actions in the workplace that result in a hostile work environment for any employee. A hostile work environment is a situation in which the actions or words used are so intolerable that reasonable people would conclude that the environment was abusive, intimidating, or hostile. Federal, state, and local laws specify protected classes of employees who may not be harassed based on their membership in a particular protected class. Advice from a discrimination attorney may be vital when there has been a potential violation of these laws. Emre Polat is a New York City hostile work environment lawyer who can counsel both employees and employers in connection with these claims in New York and New Jersey.

Hostile Work Environment

Many different types of harassing actions and language may make an employee perceive that they are working in a hostile work environment. Hostile work environment claims may arise out of the conduct of a supervisor, coworker, or customer. For example, there may be a hostile work environment when an employee's coworkers send pornographic images to each other, and the employer tolerates this after being told about it. In another example, if a manager routinely touches an employee's body whenever he provides feedback, this may give rise to a hostile work environment.

There may also be a hostile work environment when a supervisor makes insulting remarks about older workers' ability to do the job. There may be a hostile work environment when an important client makes derogatory remarks about certain religions or races whenever they visit the office, and the employer responds to an employee's complaint by saying that the client is too important to offend.

To have a valid claim, an employee needs to show that offensive actions or language are either severe or frequent. A single offhand remark or isolated incident may not be sufficient to create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment attorney can advise New York City residents and employers on whether a law likely has been violated.

The federal law prohibiting a hostile work environment based on sex, race, color, national origin, or religion is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Other federal laws that protect employees from a hostile work environment based on other protected characteristics include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

Moreover, New York, New Jersey, and New York City each have laws that also prohibit a hostile work environment, and in many cases, they have broader protections against a hostile work environment than do federal laws. For example, sexual orientation is a protected characteristic under all of these laws, and it is only implicitly protected under federal law, based on guidance and case law. Damages are not capped under state or local laws, whereas under federal anti-discrimination laws that are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, damages are capped based on the size of the employer.

While federal law provides protection for employees who work for employers with at least 15 employees, state and local laws protect employees of companies with four or more employees. In the case of sexual harassment that results in a hostile work environment, for example, an employer need have only one employee who feels that it is a hostile work environment to face possible liability.

Enlist the Assistance of a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer in New York City

Many negative consequences may result from a hostile work environment. Among other things, a hostile work environment may affect productivity and work performance, while causing physical symptoms such as insomnia. Some hostile work environments are so unbearable that they result in an employee no longer wanting to stay in a position that they otherwise enjoy. A New York City hostile work environment attorney can make sure that your rights are protected. The Polat Law Group provides guidance and legal representation to employees in in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey. Call us at (212) 480-4500 or use our online form to set up an appointment. We can represent people and employers who need a sexual harassment attorney or representation in other employment claims.