Employees have a right to work without fear of discrimination. Employers have a duty to maintain a workplace where all employees are treated fairly and with dignity in an environment free of bigoted intolerance. If an employee feels physically threatened in their workplace, they are working in an environment that is hostile, but the legal classification of a hostile work environment is complicated.
Defining a Hostile Work Environment
Legally speaking, a hostile work environment is present when an employee is subjected to unwelcome attention or unfair treatment based on a personal characteristic protected by anti-discrimination laws, specifically when such discriminatory conduct interferes with the terms and conditions of employment.
A hostile work environment involves harassment that singles out an individual or group for reasons that exhibit a bias against a protected classification, such as race, gender, religion, age, or disability. New Jersey law protects against discrimination in these areas, as well as unfair treatment based on color, national origin, pregnancy, and genetic information. Laws also extend protection to include sexual orientation, marital status, and gender identity as well.
The victims of this type of hostility may feel mocked or excluded. The harassment may interfere with work productivity. Prejudice on the part of management may limit the victims’s advancement opportunities within the company.
Hostile and Discriminatory Behaviors
The following list outlines many of the harassing behaviors that may create a hostile work environment. It includes cases of sexual harassment, as well as other examples of unwelcome and offensive treatment:
Inappropriate communications: Verbal comments or messages by email, text, or other notes containing suggestive or offensive remarks that make the recipient uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable attention: Watching, ogling, lingering or staring in a suggestive, disdainful, or aggressive manner.
Improper touching: Unwelcome and suggestive bodily contact, including intentionally suggestive patting or rubbing against someone inappropriately.
Offensive jokes, gestures, or images: Often under the guise of humor, some conduct or depictions can be intentionally disparaging or demeaning toward a particular group.
Pejorative language: Use of derogatory words, phrases, labels, or other language that negatively stereotypes or unfavorably generalizes a person or group.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Help Victims of Hostile Work Environments
Discrimination in the workplace is harmful to employees and to the corporate culture. If you experienced a hostile work environment, the South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC can help. We have extensive experience providing insight and advice to employees who have been subjected to hostile work environments. Contact us online or call us at 856-235-7075 to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we assist victims of workplace harassment throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.