New York City Hostile Work Environment Lawyer
Helping Ensure That Employees in New York City Have a Safe Place to Work
Hostile work environment harassment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed. Contact our experienced NYC hostile work environment lawyers for more information or assistance.
Hostile Work Environments – Sexual and Non-Sexual Harassment
Examples of actions that might create a sexual harassment hostile environment include:
- Leering, i.e., staring in a sexually suggestive manner
- Making offensive remarks about looks, clothing, body parts
- Touching in a way that may make an employee feel uncomfortable, such as patting, pinching or intentional brushing against another’s body
- Telling sexual or lewd jokes, hanging sexual posters, making sexual gestures, etc.
- Sending, forwarding or soliciting sexually suggestive letters, notes, emails, or images
Other actions which might result in hostile environment harassment, but are non-sexual in nature, include:
- Use of racially derogatory words, phrases, epithets
- Demonstrations of a racial or ethnic nature such as the use of gestures, pictures or drawings which would offend a particular racial or ethnic group
- Comments about an individual’s skin color or other racial/ethnic characteristics
- Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature (including gender identity and sexual orientation)
- Negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs)
- Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an employee’s birthplace or ancestry
- Negative comments regarding an employee’s age when referring to employees 40 and over
- Derogatory or intimidating references to an employee’s mental or physical impairment
Co-Workers Can Create a Hostile Work Environment
In cases involving employment discrimination and harassment, most often, the wrongful conduct comes from supervisors who are victimizing their subordinates. A hostile work environment can certainly be created by a supervisor or manager, but bullying or offensive conduct from co-workers can make a work environment intolerable as well. Employers can be liable for this hostile environment even when the offending behaviors aren’t tied to management. Instead, the victim must show that the employer knew about the conduct but didn’t take any steps to put a stop to it. Reporting this conduct to a superior is essential for putting the employer on notice and holding them liable if they don’t fix the situation. If the employer has a policy in place for reporting offensive conduct, you should follow the procedures outlined in the policy. If not, make sure you report the conduct in some way or can document how people in management were aware of what was going on yet failed to do anything about. Employers are strictly liable for harassment by their supervisors; their responsibility for hostile environments created by co-workers depends on how they respond to the situation once they are made aware.
Harassment Must Be Based on a Protected Characteristic
To create an unlawful hostile work environment, the harassing behavior must involve some personal characteristic protected by law. A person who is being mean or bullying to another just to be mean or out of some general dislike does not create a hostile work environment that you can hold the employer accountable for.
That said, New York City has one of the broadest protections for workers in the country when it comes to preventing harassment or a hostile work environment. Protected characteristics in New York go beyond state and federal laws like Title VII or the New York Human Rights Law. The following characteristics are protected in New York City and could form the basis of a discrimination, harassment or hostile work environment claim:
- National origin
- Alienage or citizenship status
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Partnership status
- Caregiver status
- Receipt of public assistance
- Arrest record
- Status as a victim of domestic violence
- Status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking
Don’t Put up With a Hostile Work Environment in NYC
If your supervisor or co-workers are creating a hostile environment for you at work, you shouldn’t have to suffer through it. If you’ve complained to your superiors about the harassment, but they haven’t taken any steps to stop the harassment or end the hostile environment, call Mansell Law at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation. Our New York employment lawyers work throughout New York City to put an end to hostile work environments and make sure employees are compensated for any harm done to them.