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Northern New Jersey Hostile Workplace Discrimination Attorneys | Morristown Employment Lawyers

Maintaining rights in a hostile workplace environment

Your employer may not be obliged to be cheerful and polite, but going to work should not feel like going to battle. Working in a hostile environment may make you feel threatened and unsafe, and affect your productivity and your mental and physical health. A hostile workplace environment often constitutes a form of discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination — and often the employer’s own corporate policy.

Over the years, attitudes toward hostile workplace environments have changed, and so have the laws about what constitutes such an environment. At the Morristown, New Jersey, law firm of Limitone & Hillenbrand, employment law is a major focus of our practice. When you contact us, we educate you about the law as it may apply to your case and help you protect your rights, your livelihood and your well-being.

Here is some general information about hostile workplace environments that you may find helpful. If you or someone you care about has been the target of discrimination or pervasive, persistent harassment at work, it is important to talk to an experienced employment law attorney.

What constitutes a hostile workplace environment?

There is a legal basis for defining what constitutes a hostile workplace environment. A hostile workplace environment does not exist under the law simply because you are asked to increase your productivity or are reprimanded for being late, and rarely can it result from an isolated incident. In order to file a claim of harassment, the following must have occurred:

  • You were subjected to verbal or physical abuse based on your age, gender, religion, race or ethnicity, national origin, disability or sexual orientation
  • These remarks or actions would be found distasteful by a reasonable person
  • The conduct caused unreasonable interference with your work or your performance
  • The conduct or harassment was pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile work environment

The conduct only has to meet the above criteria. It does not matter whether it was committed by a supervisor or other company manager, a co-worker or colleague, a vendor or a contractor. Once inappropriate conduct has been reported, it is your employer’s duty and responsibility to take measures to stop the problem.

Sexual harassment creates a hostile workplace environment

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women (and though less common, for men) to be subjected to an off-color remark, a leer or an unwelcome note or email. Sexual harassment leads to a hostile work environment when:

  • You are subjected to unwanted advances, touching or other inappropriate actions or comments
  • You are asked for sexual favors
  • You are subjected to verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Persistent sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment that often causes financial harm by forcing an employee to miss work, use sick days or vacation days, take an unpaid leave, or even resign from a job. It is also considered to be a form of discrimination, and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, other federal laws and New Jersey employment discrimination laws.

Finding a path to resolution

If you are experiencing a hostile workplace environment, early intervention and legal guidance may help defuse an issue before it becomes a serious problem. Sometimes, alternative dispute resolution — either mediation or arbitration — may be an answer. At other times, a lawsuit may be in order. The sooner you contact an experienced employment law attorney, the more options you may have. We invite you to schedule a consultation with a lawyer at Limitone & Hillenbrand to discuss your needs safely and confidentially.