Intro to Hostile Work Environment Claims

hostile work environment claim

A hostile work environment prevents you from doing your job effectively, leading to a lack of productivity, satisfaction with your job, and engagement with your employer. Worse, a toxic work environment can threaten employees’ health and safety.

Here’s what you need to know regarding a New York hostile work environment claim and the steps you can take to file such a claim if you find yourself in such a situation.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

The legal definition of a hostile work environment is an environment where the discriminatory actions of a coworker, manager, or supervisor negatively affect an employee’s ability to work due to abuse or intimidation. Any level of employee can create a hostile work environment in the workplace.

What Is Not Considered a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment is not an unpleasant boss or an unpleasant workplace. An unpleasant work environment can also include rude co-workers, but it is not defined as a hostile work environment.

Other situations that are not considered hostile work environments are not qualifying for the promotion you think you deserve and lack of benefits, recognition, privileges, perks, or teamwork.

While these situations at work can create a less than satisfactory work environment for you personally, they alone do not provide an argument for a hostile work environment claim because there is not a sufficient presence of discrimination, harassment, or abuse.

When Is a Hostile Work Environment Illegal?

A hostile work environment violates workers’ rights when it involves discrimination or harassment based on your:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Sex

These factors are protected characteristics under the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) guidelines and regulations. Other federal laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, also define various conditions of a hostile work environment.

At Napoli Shkolnik Attorneys at Law, we help employees who have suffered in hostile work environments due to discrimination, sexual harassment, and other inappropriate actions, and we’re here to help you receive justice. 

What Evidence Do You Need to File a Hostile Work Environment Claim?

Making a successful hostile work environment claim can be difficult. Providing proof of your claim is your responsibility, and the conditions in the workplace must be pervasive and severe.

When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reviews your case, they will determine your allegations’ validity. 

There are some actions you can take to gather evidence and make your claim.:

  • Keep a journal describing when incidents occur. Include the time, date, and description of the incident. Include the details of the conversations, such as which employee said what and how you responded. Save verifiable records such as emails relating to the situation.
  • Use your company’s complaint system to report the harassment. If the abuse or harassment is happening to others, encourage them to report it as well. (These are protected actions, meaning your employer cannot retaliate against you for reporting through appropriate internal channels. If you suffer retaliation in response to these actions, that will strengthen your case as proof of further misconduct.)
  • In New York, you may legally record conversations as proof for your case; New York laws only require single-party permission for recordings, meaning that as long as one person being recorded (including you) knows they’re being recorded and consents, it’s allowed. However, recording without the other party’s knowledge still may not be recommended depending on other circumstances, including specific company policies and what’s actually being said in the recording. It’s best to consult with a legal professional when it comes to recording audio or video.
  • Most importantly, seek legal advice. A professional attorney will be able to examine the specifics of your circumstances to help you build your case and understand what’s needed for your claim.

At Napoli Shkolnik, we’re on your side, and we’re ready to help you receive justice. As nationally trusted New York class action lawyers versed in sexual harassment cases, civil rights disputes, and more, we’re well equipped to argue your case and help you receive the best possible outcome. Contact us now to receive your free case evaluation.