Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment
Learn what makes a hostile work environment and how to prove it in your sexual harassment case.
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A hostile environment has been deemed by the Supreme Court to be any workplace environment in which the unlawful conduct is severe or pervasive.
A common misconception is that the environment must be both severe and pervasive, whereas in truth, only one of the two factors needs to be at play—either severe or pervasive.
Severe Conduct vs. Pervasive Conduct
Severe conduct can include:
- Sexual touching
- Overtly sexual physical contact
- Sexually based threats to force sexual conduct
- Sexual assault
Pervasive conduct is considered to be widespread or engrained in the company culture. It can include:
- Statements of sexual innuendo (often minimized as being flirtatious or friendly)
- Sexual jokes
- Offensive comments against women or other marginalized groups
- Viewing of pornography
If any of the above occurs in a constant manner, it creates a hostile environment.
How To Prove A Hostile Environment Due to Sexual Harassment
To pursue a case regarding a hostile environment of sexual harassment, the employee must be able to prove the following:
- They are a member of a protected class—i.e. they are protected from workplace discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII.
- They were the victim of unwanted sexual advances or sexualized conduct from another employee, usually a supervisor.
- The alleged sexual harassment had a negative impact on their employment, such as a change in compensation or position.
- The alleged harasser was in a position of authority over the employee, either as their direct supervisor or in a position that influenced the terms or conditions of their employment.
When dealing with a hostile environment stemming from workplace sexual harassment, it is important to keep a record of any and all interactions relating to the incident(s), as well as any formal complaints that were made. Learn more about what to do if you are sexually harassed in the workplace.
Contact Filippatos PLLC Today
If you have been a victim of a hostile environment, or would like to speak to an experienced sexual harassment attorney regarding your situation, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We are committed to finding a compassionate, innovative, and successful solution that is right for you.