“Hostile work environment” is often misunderstood. Many believe that such an environment is when one employee dislikes another, and intentionally makes their work life miserable to the point that they quit. However this isn’t the case.
The concept of a hostile work environment falls under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, and any state employment discrimination laws. Meaning that, unless the alleged at-work harassment is based on race, color, religion, sex, national original, age (40+), disability, or some state-protected characteristic, a hostile work environment most likely doesn’t legally exist.
A hostile work environment legally occurs when there is harsh and/or persistent conduct that a reasonable person would consider intimidating or abusive such that it impacts their way of working.
Conduct needs to be based on one of the aforementioned characteristics, or done for a retaliatory reason. Typical at-work harassment includes offensive jokes, slurs, touching, threats, ridicule and insults.
Simply being rude does not count as hostile work environment—actions need to be sufficiently offensive.
In addition it is important to know that even if an employee is not the direct victim of at-work harassment, even if he/she was affected by it, he/she has a right to sue an employer for creating such an environment.
If you believe you have a case against hostile work environment contact our Los Angeles employment law offices immediately to find out about your rights.