Discriminatory Harassment and the Hostile Work Environment

Verbal Harassment

  • Bigotry through harmful words or actions
  • Harassment that is severe, persistent, pervasive and motivated by bigotry
  • Often disguised as humor: “Can’t you take a joke”
  • Causes emotional distress and/or economic loss
  • The law provides for legal actions against their employers
  • Compensation for emotional distress and lost pay is available
  • Punitive damages and attorney fees are available

Discriminatory Harassment and hostile work environments are a form of discrimination against gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, religion, or race.  A company or corporation may be required to pay an employee for the injury and suffering caused by harassment and hostility inflicted by managers or co-workers. A court may require a company or corporation to take corrective measures to end hostility and harassment on its premises and facilities.

Discriminatory Harassment is unwelcome and bigoted conduct based upon race, color, religion, gender (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), or disability.

Offensive or bigoted actions become illegal when they are severe, pervasive, intimidating, hostile, and abusive. Occasional or isolated offensive behavior is not always illegal harassment, but may be depending upon severity.

Harassment is often disguised as humor.  Harassers, when confronted, often protest that “I was just kidding.”  They often claim that their victims are “thin skinned” or “can’t take a joke.”  They know that there are gray area between harassment and normal workplace humor-and they try to exploit this uncertainty. Generally, if the behavior causes harm-it is harassment.  If the harmful behavior is bigoted -it is harassment.

The harm caused by illegal discrimination may include emotional distress economic loss. The legal system is designed to compensate a discrimination victim requiring employers to pay money damages to the victim.

Discriminatory employers may also be required to pay the employees attorney fees, and in some instances, discriminatory employers may be required to pay punitive damages to the employee.  Punitive damages are an amount of money designed to discourage future discrimination.