Monday, February 22, 2010

A Hostile and Offensive Work Environment

A hostile work environment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed. A hostile work environment might be indicated by:

• Use of racially derogatory words, phrases, epithets;

• Demonstrations of a racial or ethnic nature such as a use of gestures, pictures or drawings which would offend a particular racial or ethnic group;

• Comments about an individual’s skin color or other racial/ethnic characteristics;

• Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature;

• Negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs);

• Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an employee’s birthplace or ancestry;

• Negative comments regarding an employee’s age when referring to employees 40 and over; or

• Derogatory or intimidating references to an employee’s mental or physical impairment.

A claim of harassment generally requires several elements, including:

• The complaining party must be a member of a statutorily protected class;

• S/he was subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct related to his or her membership in that protected class;

• The unwelcome conduct complained of was based on his or her membership in that protected class;

• The unwelcome conduct affected a term or condition of employment and/or had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with his or her work performance and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

According to the EEOC, an employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor's harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.


Blogger Determined said...

I am have similar case situation right now involving harassment (while pregnant), racial discrimination, violating FMLA and retaliation. However, the corporation is trying to say because they hired a black female and a white female was on maternity leave does not justify discrimination. Mind you the reason that I was selected for layoff was due to lack work. However behind the scenes HR and the company attorney are screaming poor work performance. I have solid evidence up until the black female was hired and although it is my assumption that she was hired to cover up their past behavior toward two other co-workers of color and myself I am working to pin them against the wall. Any suggestions or avenues for to proceed as I have filed a complaint with the EEOC and what I have learned to date several of the whites mentioned in my complaint have mysteriously transferred or left the company, which I find very interesting because they were the golden children of the department.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Fighter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:17 AM  
Blogger Fighter said...

It’s a common tactic for employers to discriminate people of colour. A person of colour is excluded from training/promotion while the other black is included. This way they can say that no discrimination occurs because the other black is included. This is called “Divide & Conquer”. After the person of colour is forced out, they then work on the remaining black person to get of rid him/her.

4:19 AM  

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