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Hostile Work Environment

What is a hostile work environment in New York City?

A New York Hostile Work Environment exists when an employee fears attending work for being subjected to an offensive, oppressive, or intimidating work environment by a co-worker or employer. A hostile work environment is typically created by harassment, racially-motivated slurs, sex-based jokes or comments, and obscene gestures. These offenses are on the basis of race, gender/sex, age, disability, pregnancy, religion, beliefs, criminal history, marital status, and national origin.

How are you protected by New York state laws?

The New York Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and the New York City State Law protects against a hostile work environment. The aims of the New York City’s harassment law is zero employer tolerance for offensive conduct. The New York City Council sets out to create an employment discrimination law far more protective of New Yorker’s rights than federal law.

New York State and City laws provide for individual liability. Meaning, you can bring a claim against anyone responsible for creating a hostile work environment. This claim can be filed against your employer, supervisor, manager or co-worker. You can even hold your employer liable for the offensive conduct of its supervisor for as long as the acts were done in connection with the supervisor’s duties/work.

The NYCHRL only requires you to prove that your claim is against an employer employing more than four (4) employees unlike federal laws requiring more than fifteen (15).

With regard to sexual orientation discrimination, the NYCHRL provides for an express prohibition unlike the Civil Rights Act which only provides an implied prohibition. This means that the NYCHRL is stricter in holding one liable for sexual orientation discrimination.

Do you have a claim?

To have a valid claim, the NYCHRL provides that the offensive conduct must be severe and pervasive so as to alter the conditions of employment. This NYCHRL definition allows a broader definition than federal laws requiring to prove severe or pervasive conduct. Under NYCHRL, it is only vital that you demonstrate that you have been treated “less well” than other employees and that this treatment is based on your membership in a protected class.

The court looks at the totality of the circumstances/factors to rule whether the work environment qualifies as legally hostile:

  • Frequency of the discriminatory behavior.
  • Severity of the discriminatory behavior.
  • Whether the behavior was physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance.
  • Whether the behavior unreasonably interferes with a worker’s performance at work
  • Whether any psychological harm resulted from the behavior and its extent.

You need not establish all the specific factors as these are taken in accordance to the specific facts of the case. As a result, the court looks at the circumstances from a case to case basis; not all cases have the same facts.

You may not succeed if you already notified your employer and he/she has already made an investigation. A hostile work environment claim is one against an employer who did not act to investigate or does not have policies and procedures to handle investigations.

File a claim and get compensated

Successfully establishing your claim awards you the compensation you deserve under the New York City Human Right Law. This includes:

Your time is limited

Under New York State and City law, you are limited to filing your claim within three (3) years from the occurrence of the incident. File immediately to preserve evidence and witnesses to the harassment to best support your claim.

Do not be a silent victim: Contact a hostile work environment lawyer today

If you have felt harassed at work or just wondering whether you are a victim of a hostile work environment, act now. You need not worry about gathering evidence or ensuring a valid claim. Remember, you have limited time. Do not delay in seeking legal advice. Act against the offensive conduct through The Sanders Firm. We will help you through the entire process of ensuring you get the justice you deserve.

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