Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is one type of adverse employment action (see the Discrimination page for more information about adverse employment actions). For a worker to establish a claim of hostile work environment, he or she must prove several things.

First, the worker must present to the jury all of the conduct that was "hostile." This can include slurs, insults, jokes, verbal comments, physical contact, intimidation, sexual advances, requests for sexual conduct and more. This conduct must be related to the worker's protected class. Some protected classes are the worker's race, color, national origin, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, disability, age or honorably discharged veteran or military status. If the hostile conduct relates to any of these protected statuses, then the employer may be liable for employment discrimination.

Second, the worker must prove that the conduct was unwelcome. Workers can show that conduct was unwelcome by showing they did not "ask for it" or invite the conduct.

Third, the conduct must be severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of the plaintiff's employment and create an abusive or hostile work environment. This abusive or hostile work environment must be related to a protected class. For example, a victim of sexual harassment might show that the conditions of her employment have been sufficiently altered by repeated unwelcome sexual advances by her boss. A victim of racial harassment might show that the conditions of his employment have been sufficiently altered by dozens of ethnic slurs, racial jokes, and racial stereotyping.

Fourth, the worker must prove that he or she personally found the working environment to be abusive or hostile. The worker must also show that a reasonable person under the same circumstances as the worker would also find the working environment to be abusive or hostile.

If you feel you are the victim of hostile work environment discrimination in Kennewick, WA, call Adam R. Pechtel today at (509) 586-3091.