Category: Employment Law Posted on Aug 15, 2020

What is a Hostile Work Environment in Connecticut?

Working in a hostile environment can lead to fear, emotional anguish, and desperation.

You need your paycheck, but when going to work every day becomes so miserable that you can hardly stand it, you may have a legal claim against your Connecticut employer for harassment.

Federal and state laws provide comprehensive protection against employee harassment and hostility in the workplace. To learn more about what constitutes a hostile work environment and what your rights are to pursue a claim, talk to the Connecticut employee rights attorneys at Stanger Stanfield Law today.

What Is a Hostile Work Environment in CT?

Under federal law, a hostile work environment is a situation where a coworker’s or supervisor’s discriminatory behavior makes an employee feel unsafe or unwelcome.

Federal discrimination law requires that the behavior in question target one of the legally protected classes or characteristics, which are:

  • Race,
  • Color,
  • National origin,
  • Religion or creed,
  • Age,
  • Sex,
  • Genetic information,
  • Familial status, and
  • Physical disability.

Other topics or types of behavior or harassment could constitute a hostile workplace environment, based on the circumstances. Talking to a CT employment attorney is the best way to determine the viability of your claim.

What Are the Connecticut Workplace Harassment Laws?

The CT workplace harassment laws are even more stringent than federal statutes.

In addition to the federally protected classes, it is illegal in Connecticut for employers to discriminate on the basis of:

  • Ancestry,
  • Learning disabilities,
  • Marital status,
  • Mental disability (past or present),
  • Pregnancy,
  • Gender identity or expression,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Civil union status, and
  • Veteran status.

Employers also cannot discriminate against any employee based on the presence of workplace hazards to reproductive systems.

Because employers cannot legally discriminate on the basis of any of these factors, they apply to the definition of a hostile work environment. For example, if a supervisor or coworker makes you feel unsafe or unwelcome by using slurs or epithets about your ancestry, ridiculing or mocking your gender expression, or insulting your sexual orientation, you may have a valid harassment claim.

An employment attorney can explain your CT employee rights and how our state’s laws may provide the basis for legal action.

Can I Sue My Employer for Creating a Hostile Work Environment?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the point at which workplace hostility or harassment becomes actionable is either when:

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

To pursue a claim against your employer for a hostile workplace, you do not have to be the person who is being harassed or the target of the behavior. As long as the conduct in question makes you feel unwelcome or unsafe, you may have a valid claim.

You may also have a valid claim against your employer if you are the subject of workplace hostility due to retaliation. For example, if you complained to HR about your situation and were harassed as a result, you could have grounds to pursue legal action.

By law, you do not have to be terminated or suffer economic harm to have a valid claim for a hostile work environment.

Talk to a Connecticut Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Today

If you are fearful of going to work and you don’t know where to turn, talk to an experienced employment attorney. At Stanger Stanfield Law, we understand how difficult this situation can be and we are here to help.

Contact us or call (860) 561-0651 today to learn more about your Connecticut employee rights or to get started with a CT hostile work environment claim.

Bruce Stanger

My litigation experience includes family law, divorce, product liability, construction law, professional negligence, shareholder disputes, medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and general commercial litigation.