When does hostile work environment/harassment become a legal issue?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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When does hostile work environment/harassment become a legal issue?

I am female and constantly harassed by a female co-worker. Most of the time it is verbal harassment, intimidation, but also gossiping about my pregnancy and have been physically shoved while passing in the hallway. I have reported every major incident, and numerous other incidents almost daily. These have been reported to both my direct manager and HR, but no corrective action has taken place. This person continues to harass me and in a nutshell, my working environment has become very hostile. When does this become a legal issue for my employer, because I don’t know what else to do to remedy the situation.

Asked on February 15, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) If you are being harassed over your pregnancy, that may be sex-based harassment (even if done by a female coworker): since only women can be pregnant, prenancy-based harassment or discrimination is generally considered anti-women harassment or discrimination. If management has been made aware of it but refuses to take action, their inaction can make the employer liable. You may have a claim for sex-based discrimination, and may wish to contact the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency.
2) Shoving you can be assault: you may wish to consider filing a police report and looking to press charges against this coworker.

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