Hostile Workplace Definition

Sexual harassment in the workplace is far too widespread, and there are laws in place designed to prevent it and punish offenders. While some harassment is overt and undeniable, there are other, more subtle forms of harassment that are every bit as offensive and off-limits. So, let’s take a look at the hostile workplace definition and identify several of the ways that sexual harassment happens in the office, factory and workspace.

A hostile workplace environment is one where an employee’s job is made exceptionally difficult or impossible because of the discriminatory words and/or actions of a supervisor, manager, co-worker, visiting client or other person on the job. A hostile workplace definition involving sexual harassment means that leadership promotes or tolerates an atmosphere of sexual innuendo, jokes, bullying or quid pro quo. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in a hostile workplace, then you may be entitled to financial compensation. You have rights under the law and do not have to put up with an intolerable situation. By hiring an attorney who handles hostile workplace cases, you will be taking a positive step forward in ending the hostility and harassment you are currently facing.

Gilleon Law Firm has helped hundreds of clients aggressively stand up to sexual harassment and get the justice they deserve. You are not alone, and we can help. To find out more about how our hostile workplace lawyers can represent you, call us for a complimentary consultation at 800-408-2857.

Can You Tell Me More About the Definition of a Hostile Workplace?

In order to understand the definition of a hostile workplace, it may be useful to break down the term itself and look at the definition of the two words individually. Consider the following from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
a: of or relating to an enemy
b: marked by malevolence: having or showing unfriendly feelings
c: not hospitable
d: having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature

a: an office
b: a place (such as a shop or factory) where work is done
c: a plant, workroom, yard or studio

There are many ways to create a hostile workplace environment. An employer and co-workers have stepped over the line when the harassment you face makes it difficult or impossible to perform your job.

What Constitutes a Hostile Workplace If You’re a Woman?

Both men and women can face sexual harassment in the workplace, as can members of the LGBTQ+ community. Many of our clients are women, so female clients often have questions about exactly what constitutes a hostile workplace if you’re a woman.

For women, sexual harassment does not have to include a violent or abusive act, nor does it have to include inappropriate touching, although it can. Crude jokes, comments about body parts or attire, unwanted sexual attention, repeated requests for dates even after being told “no,” withholding of promotions or employment opportunities unless sexual favors are performed or limiting a woman’s movement through physical intimidation can constitute sexual harassment.

Hostile workplace definition under federal law

Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on sex, including pregnancy, and it becomes unlawful where:

  1. enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
  2. the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Not only is sexually offensive conduct and a hostile workplace environment illegal, but anti-discrimination laws “also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws,” the EEOC states.

The EEOC does go on to say, however, that “petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious)” do not of themselves constitute illegal actions. A mean or belittling boss may not be enough to prove that a hostile workplace environment exists. This is where a skilled and experienced sexual harassment lawyer can help you establish whether or not you have a claim.

What is a Hostile Workplace If You Don’t Work in an Office?

An office inside a building is often the first thing we think of when we think of a workplace. But there are many, many locations that meet the definition of a workplace where sexual harassment can occur. Consider the following:

  • Farm
  • Flower shop
  • Factory
  • Company vehicle
  • Pool or outdoor recreation area
  • Restaurant
  • Retail establishment
  • Schools and universities
  • Photography studio
  • Movie set
  • Modeling agency
  • Sports field or locker room

The list is endless. A workplace is the professional environment in which you are assigned by your employer to work.

The definition of a hostile workplace in outdoor locations

Just because a location is outdoors doesn’t make it any less of a “workplace” if your employer controls and/or contracts with the environment and assigns you to work there. For example, outdoor locations can include farms, movie sets and sports fields. If a company supervisor, manager or other employee sexually harasses you and creates a hostile workplace at the football stadium or movie lot where you work, then federal laws and EEOC requirements can apply.

Contact a Hostile Workplace Environment Lawyer Today

If you have been sexually harassed, bullied and forced to endure sexually provocative comments or actions by other employees, then you may be entitled to financial compensation. There are federal laws against hostile workplace environments, and you do not have to put up with these. You have rights and you can get the justice you deserve. The attorneys at Gilleon Law Firm have helped countless clients fight back against employers who create or tolerate hostile workplaces. We can do the same for you. To find out more about how we can help, contact us for a complimentary consultation at 800-408-2857.