Hostile Work Environment

Baltimore Hostile Work Environment Lawyer

A hostile work environment is a term often used to describe situations in which sexual harassment in the workplace has become both pervasive and untenable for an employee. However, this is not the only kind of behavior that can create a work environment that qualifies as hostile. Harassment based on race, gender, or religion can be just as offensive to an employee, so if you are being harassed at work, you should consider speaking with a Baltimore hostile work environment lawyer who can help protect you from further harassment and assist you in seeking damages from your employer.

What Constitutes Harassment?

Teasing and jokes do not usually qualify as harassment for the purposes of determining whether a workplace has become a hostile environment for an employee. The following factors are good indicators that a person has become the victim of harassment in the workplace:

  • The other employees’ actions reveal discrimination based on a protected characteristic, such as race, sex, or religion;
  • The behavior is not only pervasive, but has continued over a period of time;
  • The behavior was reported to a supervisor or another person in a managerial position, but was never addressed by the employer; and
  • The actions are so severe that they seriously disrupt a person’s work product or interfere with his or her career progress.

A variety of offensive behaviors and actions can create a hostile work environment, including:

  • Consistently making derogatory comments, slurs, or jokes, about an employee’s racial characteristics or religious beliefs;
  • Using gestures, symbols, or images that are offensive to a specific ethnic or religious group;
  • Making disparaging and discriminatory comments about a person’s gender;
  • Sending sexually explicit messages or emails;
  • Telling lewd jokes, making sexual gestures, and taking part in inappropriate touching; and
  • Expressing negative stereotypes or opinions about an employee’s ethnicity, gender, or religion.

Defining a Hostile Work Environment

Not all workplace interactions reach the level of severity that would satisfy the definition of a hostile work environment, so when employees file a claim against a co-worker or employer, the court will assess a number of factors, such as:

  • Whether the employee was ever physically threatened;
  • Whether the behavior occurred on multiple occasions or was a one-time statement;
  • The severity of the behavior or conduct of the coworker or employer;
  • Whether the perpetrator was in a supervisory position;
  • Whether the conduct interfered with the employee’s ability to work to an unreasonable degree;
  • Whether the behavior was subjectively abusive to the victim;
  • Whether the conduct was instigated by a number of people or a single individual; and
  • The severity of the effect on the employee’s psychological health.

After applying these factors, courts will determine whether an employee was the victim of harassment so severe that it created a hostile work environment. If the conduct does satisfy this threshold, then the perpetrator, whether he or she was a co-worker, employer, or client, can be held liable for damages. Even employers who did not themselves contribute to the harassment can be required to compensate the victim if they knew that the harassment was occurring, but did not take steps to address it.

Schedule a Meeting With a Baltimore Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Today

If you have been the victim of discrimination at work, please contact a member of our legal team at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. by calling (410) 514-6099. Attorney Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford and the rest of our team represent many workers who have faced adverse treatment in the workplace, and they can help you recover damages from your employer. Schedule a consultation today with an experienced hostile work environment lawyer to learn how we can help you. We accept clients in Baltimore and throughout Maryland and Washington D.C.