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Defining a hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2021 | Employment Law

It can be impossible to do your job if you are being subjected to harassment from your coworkers and supervisors. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and other Federal and Colorado employment laws, harassment based on a protected trait is prohibited in the workplace. When unlawful workplace harassment ‘unreasonably interferes’ with an employee’s ability to do their job, that employee may be experiencing a hostile work environment. Employees may file a claim against their employer to recover damages for the harassment and hostile work environment they have been subjected to.

Establishing a claim

Annoying coworkers, a boss that micromanages, tedious work, and a small cubicle are all things that may negatively affect our perceptions of our employer and our workplace. However, discomfort at work is generally not enough to meet the legal definition of ‘hostile work environment.’ To prove a claim for hostile work environment, you should establish the following:

  • The presence of workplace behaviors that are unwanted, offensive, and pervasive enough to create an abusive or hostile environment (the occasional inappropriate comment from a coworker is generally not enough).
  • The workplace harassment you are experiencing is discriminatory or based on your membership in a protected class (e.g., age, race, gender).
  • A reasonable person in your position would consider your workplace environment to be hostile or abusive.
  • Tolerating the harassment is necessary in order for you to continue working for your employer.

We all deserve to work in healthy, safe environments that allow us to do our jobs without fear of harassment. If your employer has helped cultivate a hostile work environment that has negatively impacted you, an employment law attorney may be able to help you file a claim against them.