What constitutes a “hostile work environment”?

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What constitutes a “hostile work environment”?

I am a team gymnastics coach for a junior olympic gymnastics team. Our head gymnastics coach that I work with is very verbally abusive to the gymnasts at the gym. In fact, it is getting worse and worse. He is going so far as to make fun of their families, talk very badly about their parents to make them cry. Tells them they’re not “real” athletes, etc, etc. Basically using very manipulative strategies to train the girls.

Asked on August 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

People commonly believe that a work environment or supervisor cannot be hostile, but that is not true. A workplace can legally be incredibly hostile, as can managers or supervisors. All that is illegal is being hostile on the basis of certain specifically protected characteristics, such as a person's race, religion, sex, age over 40, or disability. If the hostility is not directed at you because of such a protected reason, it is legal--your supervisor can be manipulative, abusive, etc.


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