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New Jersey Employment Lawyers > Blog > Sexual Harassment > What Is A Hostile Work Environment For Sexual Harassment Claims?

What Is A Hostile Work Environment For Sexual Harassment Claims?


No employee in New Jersey should be subject to sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately it remains a significant problem. There are different categories of sexual harassment. The first is called quid pro quo sexual harassment. The second is called hostile work environment sexual harassment. Claims based on a hostile work environment can be especially complicated. In this article, our Monmouth County sexual harassment attorney explain the key things that employees should understand about hostile work environments.

How the EEOC Defines a Hostile Work Environment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines a hostile work environment as one where unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information becomes severe or pervasive, affecting an individual’s employment, unreasonably interfering with work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The conduct can be physical, verbal, or nonverbal and may include offensive jokes, slurs, name-calling, threats, physical assaults, or offensive visual displays.

Note: A hostile work environment can be the basis of a sexual harassment claim. It can also be the basis of other types of harassment claims, such as racial harassment or age-related harassment.

What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment: Severe or Pervasive 

The “severe or pervasive” standard is a critical element in determining whether a hostile work environment exists under the EEOC guidelines. The legal standard helps distinguish between isolated incidents or minor annoyances and a genuinely hostile environment that is actionable under the law. What constitutes a hostile work environment does depend, in part, on case-specific factors. To bring a successful hostile work environment claim for sexual harassment under state law or federal law, an employee must prove that they were subject to one (or both) of the following:

  • Offensive conduct (harassment) that was so severe that interfered with employment; or
  • Offensive conduct (harassment) that was so pervasive that interfered with employment. 

A Comprehensive Investigation is a Must in a Hostile Environment Claim

 A comprehensive investigation is essential when dealing with a hostile work environment claim. These are complicated cases. It is crucial that you are able to ensure that all relevant evidence is collected. Your rights matter. Evidence may come from writing down your account, interviewing witnesses, reviewing company policies, and examining any documentation or electronic communications related to the claim. No matter the circumstances, our New Jersey sexual harassment lawyer can take action to help you get justice and the best outcome.

 Contact Our New Jersey Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Today

At Poulos LoPiccolo PC, our New Jersey sexual harassment attorney has the skills and experience to handle all types of hostile work environment claims. If you or your loved one was subject to a hostile work environment while on the job, we are here to help. Contact us today to set up your fully confidential, no obligation case review. Our firm represents employees in sexual harassment claims in Monmouth County and throughout the wider region in New Jersey.



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