What factors are examined to show a hostile work environment?

Many Cranston residents work hard at their jobs. Individuals can spend years, or even decades, building their careers. In spite of all of this hard work, employees may be very surprised to find themselves treated poorly, and unlawfully, by their employer.

Recently, this blog has discussed one kind of unlawful activity that can take place in the workplace, sex discrimination. Sex discrimination can come in many different forms, including lewd comments, unwelcome sexual advances or even behavior that results in a lost job for the employee.

In the legal world, there are different types of sexual harassment claims that can be filed. One claim, known as a hostile working environment claim, exists when there is behavior or conduct that is so severe that it creates an intimidating and offensive work environment.

This is often a fact-sensitive matter in determining whether a hostile work environment exists. Accordingly, there are multiple factors a court may consider in determining whether the employee was subjected to a hostile work environment.

For instance, the court may look at the frequency of the inappropriate behavior that took place, as well as the severity of the behavior at issue. The court might also consider the conduct of the victim in the matter. If the victim took part in the behavior, for example, it could impact the person's ability to maintain a legal claim. The court will also look at other factors like the size and nature of the employer's business.

Ultimately, the court will examine all pertinent facts at issue. It will also consider whether a reasonable person standing in the shoes of the employee would have thought the environment was hostile, which is a more objective inquiry. If so, the employee can succeed in the claim and hold the employer responsible.

Source: Findlaw, "Sexual harassment: What is it?," accessed on Nov. 5, 2016

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