Is an employer liable for hostile work environment discrimination and harassment?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Feb 6, 2020
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
Hostile work environment discrimination occurs when your work environment is made unpleasant on the basis of your protected status. If you are experiencing harassment from co-workers or otherwise being made to feel uncomfortable (such as by constantly hearing sexually inappropriate jokes or jokes about your religion for example) this may be an example of hostile environment discrimination. Whether or not an employer is going to be liable for hostile work environment discrimination or harassment depends upon the situation and the employer’s culpability.
If an employer is aware that a hostile work environment has been created and takes no action to correct the problem, then the employer can be held liable for the discrimination and harassment. However, under federal law, if the employer is not made aware of the situation, the employer will likely not be held responsible for this type of harassment. This is especially true if the employer has a program in place that allows employees to report discrimination or related problems and the employee who is being discriminated against does not take advantage of the program.
Employees considering suing for hostile work environment discrimination or harassment should keep careful documentation of any instance of harassment. A diary with the dates, times, and a detailed description of the event is helpful. Further, if you intend to sue and hold the employer responsible, it’s also imperative to keep a detailed record of any attempts to notify the employer of the problem, along with details about whatever response (or non-response) you received from your employer.
Contacting an attorney as early as you can in the process can go a long way toward ensuring that you are able to get the relief you need from your hostile work environment claim, as your lawyer can assist you in gathering any and all evidence of discrimination or harassment that may be required.