Hostile Work Environment Based on Ethnicity
People should be able to do their jobs without fear of discrimination. As a result, employers are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing a person on the basis of ethnicity. One type of unlawful harassment is creating or allowing a hostile work environment. The New York employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have experience helping people who are subjected to a hostile work environment because of their ethnicity.How Hostile Work Environments Are Created
Offensive comments, jokes, bullying, or other conduct is unlawful harassment if the actions create an offensive or intimidating work environment. Additionally, if such actions by coworkers, managers, or third-party vendors on the premises interfere with a person’s ability to do their job, those actions can create a hostile work environment. Some of the many examples of behavior that can lead to this outcome are:
- Jokes based on one’s ethnicity;
- Ethnic or racial slurs;
- Derogatory comments about a person based on the person’s ethnicity or about all people of a certain ethnicity; or
- Offensive pictures or cartoons related to ethnicity.
All of these examples — whether communicated verbally or through another medium, such as email or posts on an office bulletin board — may contribute to a hostile work environment.
Keep in mind that a single instance of the above may not be enough. For something to create a hostile work environment it must be pervasive (meaning repetitive) or severe (meaning extreme in nature). If you are not sure whether your employer’s or coworker’s actions have created a hostile work environment, speak with an experienced employment attorney.Several Laws Prohibit Hostile Work Environments
There are laws at every level of government that protect the rights of workers by prohibiting hostile work environments based on ethnicity. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Act) makes actions that create a hostile, intimidating, or offensive environment in the workplace illegal. Discriminatory acts that interfere with a person’s ability to do his or her job are also illegal under the Act. This law applies to all employers in the United States with 15 or more employees.
If you work for a smaller employer, you are still protected under state or city law. The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law both apply to employers with four or more employees. These laws serve to enforce many of the same rights as the federal law, making discrimination or harassment based on ethnicity illegal.
A successful suit brought under either federal, state, or local laws can allow plaintiffs to recover compensatory damages, which compensate plaintiffs for financial and emotional injuries, and sometimes also punitive damages, which punish defendants for their actions.Stand Up for Your Rights
If you believe that the conduct of someone at your workplace has created a hostile work environment based on your ethnicity, the New York employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates can help. We have experience in fighting for the rights of workers throughout New York, and will do the same for you. Our consultations are free and always kept strictly confidential. To schedule yours, call (212) 248-7431 or send us an email today.