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What is a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2023 | Employment Law (Employee)

Many Americans working full-time spend at least 40 hours a week in the workplace. That is why it should come as no surprise that these workers generally want their work environment to be pleasant.

While that may be their hope or expectation, often times, a colleague or employer can intentionally or unintentionally create a hostile work environment through their actions or inactions. Employees experiencing harassment may have a claim for hostile work environment.

Filing a claim for hostile work environment

Simply feeling uncomfortable or offended in the workplace is not enough to warrant for sustain a claim for a hostile work environment. Generally, a successful hostile work environment lawsuit will establish:

  • Harmful or offensive behavior or harassment (inappropriate jokes and comments, unwanted touching, etc.)
  • Harmful behavior related to victim’s membership in a protected class (e.g., religion or gender).
  • Harmful behavior is severe and pervasive (one-time incident is typically not sufficient).
  • Employer knew or should have known of the offensive behavior.
  • Employer failed to take action to stop the offensive behavior from occurring.
  • Offensive behavior interfered with employee’s ability to work.
  • Tolerating offensive behavior was required to continue working for employer.

What should you do if you are experiencing harassment at work?

If you are being harassed at work in Pennsylvania and think you may have a valid claim against your employer for creating or allowing a hostile work environment, it is important to collect evidence to support your potential case.

Make sure you save any correspondence with your harasser, copies of reports filed with your employer complaining of the harassment, and documentation relating to your work performance.

It may also be in your best interest to speak to an employment law attorney about your potential claim.