Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Hostile Work Environment Definition:

A pattern of ongoing and persistent harassment severe enough to alter the conditions of employment.

Related Terms: Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Poisoned Work Environment

Eugene Scalia wrote for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:

"Courts ... recognize two forms of sexual harassment (in employment): quid pro quo and hostile work environmentQuid pro quo harassment conditions employment (or promotion) on sexual favors. Hostile work environment or environmental harassment comprises discriminatory comments, advances, touching, and the like that make the workplace hostile or abusive."

In Hall, Justice Tacha of the United States Court of Appeals wrote:

"An employer creates a hostile work environment when the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment."

Similarly, these words of Justice Lay in Morgan v National Railroad:

"A hostile work environment occurs when there is a pattern of ongoing and persistent harassment severe enough to alter the conditions of employment. Most instances of hostile environments are not capable of facile identification. Instead, the day-to-day harassment is particularly significant, both as a legal and a practical matter, in its cumulative effect."

The significance of a hostile work environment is the exposure it opens in regards to the employer and a constructive dismissal claim.

REFERENCES:

Categories & Topics:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!