Can Verbal Conduct Create a Hostile Work Environment?

Hostile work environments and harassment are quite prevalent these days. A hostile work environment is one where a worker feels uncomfortable or threatened to the point that doing their job becomes unbearable. A hostile work environment involves severe action that happens over time and adversely affects a worker’s ability to do their job. Some employers are concerned about maintaining a workplace that is free from harassment and not hostile. But unfortunately, many employers are not taking the necessary steps to keep their workplaces free from hostility. If you are an NJ employee who has been harassed to the extent that the harassment has created a hostile work environment, you might have legal recourse. You might be eligible to file a workplace harassment claim. 

Often, employees wonder if verbal conduct can lead to a hostile work environment. So, can verbal communication lead to a hostile work environment? Yes. Verbal communication can lead to a hostile work environment. Below is a closer look at workplace verbal harassment.

Verbal Conduct Can Lead to a Hostile Work Environment

As already mentioned, verbal harassment can lead to a hostile work environment. Verbal harassment is when people say demeaning or offensive things to a worker. It involves saying words that are threatening. It may also involve saying things that are embarrassing, hurtful, or which are meant to undermine a worker.

Workplace verbal harassment can be perpetrated by an employer. It can also be perpetrated by, among others;

  • Co-workers
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Staff

Verbal harassment is also called “micro-aggressions.” But do not let this term make you assume that verbal harassment is not a serious issue. This form of harassment is quite serious. Verbal harassment can create a negative work environment for employees. In New Jersey, if a company fails to take steps to avoid verbal harassment, it could be held responsible for the negative impact verbal harassment has on a worker.

Verbal harassment can be overt, but it does not need to be. For example, a joke directed toward a group of people at work can be considered verbal harassment. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that for it to be harassment, the behavior must be a sustained pattern. One joke might not be considered verbal harassment. One joke might not be considered capable of making it impossible for an employee to do their job.

Every worker in New Jersey has the right to a safe work environment. According to the law, discrimination against a worker due to specific protected characteristics, such as race, national origin, ethnicity, and religion, is prohibited. Unfortunately, many employees fall victim to verbal harassment because of these characteristics.

However, the good news is that if an employee is verbally harassed based on their protected characteristics to the point that the harassment creates a hostile environment at work, they may have legal recourse. You might have the legal right to file a harassment claim and recover compensation for damages such as wages and back pay. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may even recover punitive damages.  

Contact the Trabosh Law Firm

If you have been verbally harassed at work to the point that it has become difficult to do your job, contact our qualified and dedicated New Jersey employment lawyer at the Trabosh Law Firm.

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