Hostile Work Environment Based on Race
Because most of us need to work to support ourselves or our families, it is important that our workplaces be free of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics. Therefore, it is illegal for an employer to create or allow a hostile work environment in the workplace. Phillips & Associates is comprised of dedicated New York employment discrimination lawyers who have experience defending the rights of victims of a hostile work environment based on racial discrimination.What Makes A Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment can constitute a form of unlawful racial discrimination. It occurs when discrimination, bullying, inappropriate comments, jokes, or other actions make the workplace hostile, intimidating, or offensive. If these types of incidents unreasonably affect a worker’s job performance, they can create a hostile work environment. Actions that could contribute to a hostile work environment include:
- Use of racial slurs, either directed at an employee or simply used around employees;
- Racial jokes, either relayed verbally or distributed through email;
- Stereotyping people based on their race; or
- Seemingly positive comments that, on their face, may “compliment” members of a racial group as all having the same positive characteristic, but that group all people of a certain race together nonetheless; or
- Offensive drawings, cartoons, or photographs, either posted in the office or distributed via email.
These are just some examples of actions that may create a hostile work environment. There are many other possibilities.
Generally, the incidents that create a hostile work environment must be severe or pervasive, meaning that just one isolated incident would not necessarily qualify. However, one extremely serious incident, such as an assault or use of the N-word, could rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment, as would less-severe incidents when repeated over time.Creating or Allowing a Hostile Work Environment is Unlawful
There are federal, state, and local laws that protect workers who are being subjected to a hostile work environment. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the Act) was a landmark statute passed by Congress in order to protect workers’ rights. Title VII of the Act prohibits actions based on a person’s race that create a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. Title VII also prohibits behavior based on a person’s race that interferes with the person’s performance on the job.
New York State and New York City both have human rights laws that make racially motivated harassment unlawful. These laws protect New Yorkers in much the same way as the federal law. However, these laws apply to employers with four or more employees, whereas Title VII of the Act applies only to employers with 15 or more employees.
Employees who bring a successful suit for a hostile work environment can collect both compensatory and, in some cases, punitive damages from their employer.Protect Your Rights
Every New Yorker should have the right to work in an environment free of racial discrimination and harassment. If you believe that your workplace is a hostile work environment due to racial discrimination, consult an experienced lawyer right away. The New York employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates can help you understand your rights and the laws that protect them. To schedule your free, confidential consultation click on our contact page, or call (212) 248-7431.