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What is a hostile work environment?

There are more than one ways in which a worker in the Denver area can be a victim of sexual harassment.

In some cases, sexual harassment occurs when one's job is directly dependent on whether a worker is willing to engage in a romantic relationship or perform sexual favors for a supervisor or some other person.

In many if not most cases, however, a claim of sexual harassment is based on the fact that a workplace has such a bad culture when it comes to sexual harassment that, legally, what is called a hostile work environment exists.

What is and what is not a hostile work environment can be hard to distinguish. The reality is that the determination is often a case-by-case decision that depends on specific facts and circumstances. As such, whether an employee has a valid sexual harassment claim based on a hostile work environment is usually a question best answered by an employment law attorney who can evaluate the worker's particular situation.

In general, however, a hostile work environment has to be a workplace culture bad enough to in practice affect one's employment, which would include one's ability to earn a living at his or her position without undue stress. In order to succeed in a hostile environment claim, the worker must both actually find the environment offensive and be reasonable when doing so.

While this standard may preclude legal action for the isolated bad joke or boundary violation, workers do not have to stand for any pattern of inappropriate behavior that is sexual in nature or, for that matter, is discriminatory in some other respect.

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