Long Island Hostile Work Environment
Long Island is made up of Suffolk and Nassau Counties, as well as Queens and Brooklyn. However, most people associate Long Island with the suburbs. The total population of Nassau County was about 1.4 million people in 2015, and the total population of Suffolk County was slightly greater. A variety of ethnic groups make up sizeable percentages of the population and the workforce. One form of workplace harassment that is actionable on Long Island is hostile work environment harassment. Federal law forbids workplace harassment that is based on sex, race, color, religion, pregnancy, national origin, age, or disability. Most federal anti-discrimination laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). State law also prohibits such harassment, although the nuances of the law are different. At Phillips & Associates, our Long Island hostile work environment lawyers may be able to represent you if you have been wronged at your workplace.Hostile Work Environment Claims
A hostile work environment exists if a workplace is permeated with discriminatory insults, ridicule, or intimidation that is so severe or so pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of employment. The behavior that you consider to be harassment needs to happen many times, or it needs to be a serious event, to be considered hostile work environment harassment. A trivial or one-off incident will rarely be considered this type of harassment. For example, if your coworker makes one remark about women being unreliable as employees, this may not be enough to file a lawsuit. A hostile work environment occurs when an employer's actions have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's work performance or create an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working environment. A hostile work environment attorney on Long Island can advise you regarding whether your specific situation likely meets this standard.
Your hostile work environment claim does not require you to prove economic loss, and either a coworker or a supervisor (or both) can create a hostile work environment through harassing or offensive conduct based on a protected characteristic. The harassers can be men or women, and the victim can also be a man or a woman. Whether the workplace is hostile or abusive is both a subjective and an objective inquiry. The court will look at the victim's subjective experience of the workplace, as well as whether a reasonable person would find that it had become a hostile workplace. The totality of the circumstances will be considered. For example, if a coworker subjects you to unwelcome sexual overtures both verbally and physically on a regular basis over a period of a year, and your supervisor witnesses these but just shrugs, you may have a hostile work environment claim under Title VII. For another example, if your coworkers mock your disability on a regular basis, and your boss makes offensive remarks when you ask for a reasonable accommodation, this may also be hostile work environment harassment.Employer Liability
Both federal and state lawsuits require that there be a basis for imputing an employee's harassing actions to an employer. The analysis is slightly different under federal and state laws. In federal lawsuits, the issue is often how much authority the harasser has, and whether the claim is for quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment can affect the outcome. While there is strict liability for a supervisor or manager's quid pro quo harassment, an employer's liability for hostile work environment harassment is more complicated.
Employers are not automatically liable for hostile work environment harassment under federal law, and it matters whether the harasser is a supervisor or coworker. When the harasser is a supervisor, an employer can be liable if the supervisor used their authority to get involved in the harassment or otherwise helped to create a hostile work environment. Your Long Island hostile work environment attorney only needs to show the connection between the harasser's supervisorial or managerial authority and the harassing acts to recover damages. However, if your supervisor is low-level, or your harasser is a coworker, it may be harder to hold the employer liable, unless the employer did not give you a reasonable way to register a complaint or did not act to correct the problem.
Under the New York State Human Rights Law, employers can be strictly liable for hostile work environment harassment by an owner or high-level manager. An employer can be responsible for an owner or manager’s harassing conduct, even if the other owners and managers do not know about it. It can be strictly liable for harassment by a low-level manager or supervisor only if the supervisor has enough control over your working conditions. Under state law, your employer is only liable for coworker harassment if it knew or should have known about the harassment and was negligent about stopping it.Explore Your Options with a Hostile Work Environment Lawyer on Long Island
At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you obtain damages if you were subjected to sexual, racial, religious, or other types of prohibited harassment in the form of a hostile work environment. We offer free consultations. There are no upfront fees and we accept cases on a contingency basis, so you will pay attorneys' fees only if we recover damages for you. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.
PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
1129 Northern Boulevard, 4th Floor,
Manhasset, NY 11030