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It might be unpleasant, but is it a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2020 | Workplace Discrimination |

Descriptions of work environments that select employees in companies spanning Michigan and the United States find unpleasant — even intolerable – run a broad gamut.

To wit: Maybe your immediate supervisor is a constant fault finder. Perhaps a manager’s personality is flatly marked by negativity and a perceived need to publicly denigrate workers. It might be the case that bosses in your department collectively engage in behavior that you regard as repulsive. Maybe an executive’s managerial approach spawns an intensely pressurized atmosphere that is antithetical to productivity.

Every one of those possibilities spells downsides, of course, but that fact alone does not legally merit the description of a workplace as a hostile work environment.

That special terrain is often marked by a slippery slope and even some ambiguity concerning the extent to which objectionable behavior can be deemed legally actionable and susceptible to a remedy for harassed employees.

We stress that sometimes not-quite-sure nature of a problematic workplace on our website at the established Michigan Sterling Employment Law legal offices. We underscore therein that a judicial determination surrounding a hostile work environment must proceed “on a case-by-case basis.”

Moreover, an actionable claim must be grounded in convincing evidence. In other words, “the harassment and discrimination must be severe and pervasive.” Additionally, it must be directed toward an individual or group of people who comprise an enumerated demographic protected under federal and state laws.

We surmise that many of our readers can readily recite some protected classifications. They range from gender, race and national origin to age, religion and sexual orientation.

Abusive workplace conduct targeting any protected class might indeed be termed hostile by a court.


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