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What is a Hostile Work Environment in Florida?


There are many types of employment discrimination lawsuits. They include discrimination in hiring, firing, and promoting. However, there are also lawsuits filed on the basis of a hostile work environment. These lawsuits include allegations of pervasive harassment, sexual harassment, and discriminatory abuse. Many workers are unaware when conduct crosses the line from annoying to openly hostile. They, therefore, may not report conduct they consider offensive. If you suspect that a supervisor or another employee’s conduct has crossed the line, it’s important to talk to a Tampa, FL hostile work environment attorney. In this article, the employment discrimination attorneys at Florin Gray will discuss hostile work environments and how to spot them.

What constitutes a hostile work environment? 

A hostile work environment exists under conditions of severe and pervasive harassment. It cannot merely be one-time offensive conduct. The harassment must be so severe and pervasive that it affects your ability to do your job. The behavior must cross the line from merely offensive to abusive. Dealing with harassment must be a condition of your employment.

A harasser need not be a supervisor for you to file a hostile work environment lawsuit. A harasser can be anyone in the workplace including coworkers, customers, and clients.

The courts look at several factors to determine whether a workplace is hostile. These include:

  • How often did the conduct occur?
  • Was the conduct directed at you because of a Title VII protection?
  • What type of conduct was it?
  • Would a reasonable person find the work environment hostile based on this conduct?

It’s important to understand that hostile work environment lawsuits make claims that an employee is being harassed based on a protected characteristic. You cannot claim that someone is making fun of the color of your hair and it’s annoying you. You must claim that they are making repeated jokes concerning your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability—all of the characteristics that are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Signs of a hostile work environment

Those wondering what specifically a hostile work environment looks like should be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • Repeated jokes or unwanted comments concerning a protected characteristic
  • Displaying offensive symbols or images
  • Physical assaults and unwanted touching
  • Sexual harassment including displaying explicit photos

It’s important to note that these are just a few examples of the type of conduct that gives rise to a hostile work environment. This list is not exhaustive. If you believe you are facing discriminatory comments or conduct based on a protected characteristic, it is important to speak to a Tampa employment law attorney.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Employment Law Attorney Today 

The Tampa employee rights attorneys at Florin Gray represent the interests of employees who are facing a hostile work environment. If you have experienced unwanted jokes or offensive conduct, and it makes you dread going to work each day, give our office a call. We can help you understand your rights and determine whether or not a lawsuit is appropriate.

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