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What constitutes a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Employment Litigation

Employers in Illinois have a responsibility to create a safe, healthy work environment for their employees. Unfortunately, many employees dread going to work every day due to a hostile work environment created by company owners, managers, supervisors, and other employees. If you are experiencing a hostile work environment, it may be in your best interest to contact an employment litigation attorney, if possible, before leaving your job. Your attorney can advise you on how to file a successful claim against your employer.

What is a hostile work environment?

Unlikable coworkers, insufficient benefits, or an overwhelming workload can make a workplace unpleasant, but these things are generally not enough to meet the legal definition of hostile work environment.

Legally speaking, a hostile work environment occurs when people at work are harassing you for discriminatory reasons and creating an environment that is so offensive that it impacts your ability to work.

Harassment

Harassment may include demeaning comments, unwarranted criticism, offensive jokes, insults, and threats.

The occasional rude comment is generally not enough to be considered unlawful, but repeated comments may be. According to the EEOC, harassment is considered unlawful if you are forced to endure the harassment to continue working for your employer, or the harassment is severe and pervasive enough for a reasonable person to consider your work environment to be hostile, abusive, or intimidating.

Discrimination

To constitute a hostile work environment, the harassment must also be discriminatory in nature. Discriminatory harassment includes harassment based on a person’s membership in a protected class. Some examples include harassment based on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • National origin
  • Race or ethnicity

You deserve to work in a place where you feel safe and respected. If you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, an attorney can help you get the justice you deserve.

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