What Is a Hostile Work Environment? By Douglas Geyman

Legally, a work environment must meet certain criteria to be considered “hostile.” In cases where a plaintiff can demonstrate that he or she was subjected to hostile work conditions, the court may award damages. But before pursuing legal action regarding an unpleasant situation at the office, it is important to understand the legal definition of hostility.

Hostile work environments are those in which one or more employee is being harassed or discriminated against on the basis of gender, age, race, class, ethnic origin, or any other status that is considered protected. The hostility must be of a degree that interferes with the performance of work duties and must be prolonged over a period of time; in other words, one off-color joke does not create a hostile work environment.

Perhaps the most commonly recognized example is sexual harassment, which typically involves one employee harassing, discriminating against, or offering favors to another because of gender or sexual preference. Individuals who believe they are enduring a hostile work environment should contact an attorney.

About Douglas Geyman

Attorney Douglas Geyman practices employment law privately in San Diego. Geyman handles cases for clients that involve a variety of employment law issues, including wage disputes, wrongful terminations, and hostile work environments.