New Jersey Hostile Work Environment
One type of workplace harassment is known as hostile work environment. Often it arises in the context of sexual harassment, which is prohibited under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. However, it can also arise in the context of religious, racial, pregnancy, color, gender identity, disability, or other protected categories. The harassment must be either frequent or quite severe to be actionable. At Phillips & Associates, our New Jersey workplace harassment attorneys can review your case and evaluate whether you have a basis to bring a hostile work environment lawsuit.What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
Your employer should provide you with a work environment that is free from harassment, which is a form of discrimination. Harassment is actionable if it creates a hostile work environment. This is established if you can prove that actions and words used against you in the workplace would cause a reasonable person who falls within the same protected category, such as sex or race, to feel intimidated or offended such that the terms of employment have been altered.
Offensive conduct that is directed towards you because of your sex, race, pregnancy, disability, religion, color, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or membership in other protected categories may create a hostile work environment. Actions or gestures that might be considered to contribute to a hostile work environment include:
- inappropriate remarks,
- sexual or racial epithets,
- explicit emails,
- pornographic images,
- yelling and screaming,
- and swearing.
The hostile work environment is only created if the harassment is either severe or pervasive. Severity refers to how offensive the words or actions are, while pervasiveness refers to how often the harassment occurs. In order for one act of harassment to qualify as hostile work environment harassment, it must be extreme. Alternatively, a series of minor incidents can be so pervasive that they generate a hostile work environment. For example, if you are repeatedly called slurs and subject to offensive jokes by coworkers, and your manager witnesses this and does nothing, this is likely a hostile work environment.
Although an employer is strictly liable for harassment by a supervisor or manager, it can also be held liable for harassment by a coworker if it knows about the harassment and doesn't take steps to protect the victim.Damages for a Hostile Work Environment
If you successfully establish a hostile work environment claim, you may be able to recover damages. These are capped if your claim arises out of federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you bring your claim based on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the remedies may include back pay, compensatory damages, emotional distress damages, injunctive relief to make the work environment better, punitive damages and interest on lost wages.Consult New Jersey Employment Discrimination Attorneys to Protect Your Rights
If you believe in reasonable good faith that you have been subject to a hostile work environment, you are entitled to complain about the harassment. Although it can be stressful to bring a discrimination claim against your employer, most anti-discrimination laws that prohibit harassment include a provision against retaliation so that your employer may owe additional damages if it retaliates against you. The New Jersey workplace harassment attorneys of Phillips & Associates may be able to help you recover damages. Contact us at (609) 436-9087 or through our online system. We help clients in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, Union, Hudson, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Burlington, and Camden Counties.
PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
100 Overlook Center, 2nd Floor
Princeton, NJ 08540