Our NYC Hostile Work Environment Lawyers represent employees throughout New York City and New York. A New York Hostile Work Environment Law claim exists when an employee is subjected to an offensive or intimidating work environment by a supervisor or co-worker. The Hostile Work Environment is typically created by harassment due to your gender, religion, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity or other protected characteristics.
A work environment is considered to be a hostile work environment in New York City when the work environment becomes so unbearable that the employee is unable to either continue working or the work environment has changed to that you are no longer comfortable going to work. You may be scared to continue working as a result of the harassment. All of these situations are considered a hostile work environment in New York.
Hostile Work Environments in New York
A hostile work environment is one form of employment discrimination based on verbal or physical actions that negatively affect an individual’s work performance. Unlike other forms of workplace discrimination, a hostile work environment involves conduct that occurs in the actual employment context. Adverse employment decisions, such as a decision not to hire a candidate, do not create a hostile work environment. Rather, a hostile work environment is created when an employee is subjected to bullying, insults or unwelcome physical contact. While a hostile work environment is a common claim in sexual harassment suits, it can exist in any employment relationship involving an employee of a protected class. Aside from gender, there are many characteristics deemed protected under the law. For example, an employee’s race, religion, disability or sexual orientation are considered protected characteristics under anti-discrimination laws. In order to show a hostile work environment, an employee must first establish he or she fits within a protected characteristic.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from workplace discrimination in employment settings of 15 or more employees. Because a hostile work environment may be created for employees of any protected class, Title VII is not the only federal law that may apply. For example, if an employee with a disability experiences a hostile work environment, the claim may be brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The main distinction between federal and state coverage is the number of employees needed to pursue a claim. An employer under the New York Human Rights Law is one with more than four employees. Another important difference between federal and New York state law is the filing period, or statute of limitations. To file a hostile work environment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employee must file within 300 days of the alleged incidents. Under New York State and City law, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is 3 years. While an employee may choose to wait the full three years, it is best to file immediately to preserve evidence and witnesses to the harassment. Moreover, an employee may not succeed on a claim if he or she notifies an employer of the hostile work environment and the employer subsequently investigates the claim. Hostile work environment claims generally involve employers who have opted not to investigate, or employers who do not have a policy outlining the procedures and department to handle investigations.
Under New York state law, an employee can bring a claim of harassment against a supervisor, manager or co-worker. The claim may be brought against anyone who is responsible for creating a hostile work environment. To show a hostile work environment, an employee typically has to prove the conduct was repeated. A court will look at whether the conduct is severe in nature or pervasive. This standard means an employee must only establish severity or pervasiveness. While repeated incidents may demonstrate a stronger case, a single incident may still give rise to a hostile work environment claim. A hostile work environment can be created through statements or physical contact. Offensive statements are generally not enough to show a hostile work environment, unless the statements are so blatantly rude or humiliating. When offensive comments are combined with unwelcome physical acts, an employee has a stronger claim for demonstrating a hostile work environment.
In order for workplace harassment to be actionable, a reasonable person must believe the work environment is hostile or abusive. Because there is no bright line test to determine whether an environment is hostile, a court will look at the totality of the circumstances. This requires a court to look at several factors, such as the frequency of the incidents, the psychological harm suffered by the employee, and the interference on the employee’s work performance. An employee is not required to establish a specific number of factors. Further, factors are assessed in conjunction with the specific facts of the case. As a result, one factor may be dispositive for one case, and not for a different case.
Generally, workplace incidents establishing a hostile work environment may be valid under New York City Human Rights Law, even if they are not considered severe enough under federal or state criteria. In New York City, an employee is only required to show that he or she was treated less favorably than other employees due to a protected characteristic. Under New York City Human Rights Law, an employee may present a harassment case without first demonstrating the severity or pervasiveness of the actions. The issue of severity or pervasiveness is used when calculating damages.
Overall, a hostile work environment may be created when an employee’s work is negatively affected by verbal or physical actions by other employees or supervisors. While there are several elements an employee should establish to bring a claim, one of the most important is that the work environment is objectively hostile or abusive.
Contact Our NYC Hostile Work Environment Lawyers Today
If you believe that you are the victim of a hostile work environment in New York, you should contact one of our New York Hostile Work Environment Lawyers to discuss your claim. We strongly suggest that you contact our NYC Employment Lawyers prior to quitting or resigning from your job. This is important so that we can evaluate your situation before you take any action that may negatively affect your claim. Please contact our NYC Hostile Work Environment Lawyers for a free consultation.