What constitutes a hostile work environment?

By Douglas Lipsky

The nature of a hostile work environment under the Federal and New York State Law is that the conduct has to be severe and pervasive, such that a reasonable person would find that their, their work environment has changed, that they’re really having difficulty working in that environment because of the conduct. So depending on the nature of the comments, the nature of the verbal conduct, if it’s happening more than once and it’s becoming frequent it can certainly rise to the level of a hostile work environment that would be worth complaining about. In fact, some words are deemed so offensive that even the use of them one time might be considered to create a hostile work environment. And under New York City Law the standard to establish a hostile work environment is an even lower one. You don’t necessarily have to show that it’s severe and pervasive. You really just have to demonstrate that you are being treated quote less well than other workers because of your sex, because of your gender, and if you can establish that and demonstrate that it’s had a negative or adverse impact on you, because you are being treated less, well then you have a solid hostile work environment claim under New York City Law.

If you’re interested in having a better understanding if your work environment may be considered hostile, you can review our helpful infographic that covers laws, common misunderstandings, and explanations.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.