We Fight For Workplaces Free Of Discrimination And Harassment
You do not deserve to work in an environment where you are bullied, harassed, or humiliated on a regular basis. Instead, you deserve to work in a safe, inclusive environment where you can focus on doing your job.
Your employer has a legal duty to make sure you are not working in a discriminatory work environment. Therefore, if your employer is letting you be bullied or harassed because of your race, color, ethnicity, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity, CONTACT MY FIRM, Mansour Law, LLC, online or call 610-936-6863 for a FREE CONSULTATION. My team is ready to help!
What Is An Illegal Hostile Work Environment?
A illegal hostile work environment occurs when your work environment becomes hostile because of your race, color, ethnicity, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Types of conduct that can lead to a hostile work environment include:
- Bullying or harassment
- Insults, epithets, and name-calling
- Violence or threats of violence
- Offensive jokes or pranks
- Offensive photographs, videos, or drawings
- Unwarranted discipline or job scrutiny
- Threats of discipline or termination
- Transfer to a less-desirable job or work location
- Unwelcome sexual advances
Importantly, not all hostile work environments are illegal. To be illegal, the work environment must be hostile toward your race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, age, or disability.
In addition, the hostile or harassing conduct must be severe OR pervasive. In other words, it must be extreme or happen frequently. The harassment must be frequent enough to change the conditions of your employment. Isolated incidents of harassment are not illegal unless they are clearly severe. Recently, for example, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a supervisor’s single use of the “n-word” in front of African-American employees was severe enough to bring a claim for racial harassment. Therefore, a single, severe act of sexual harassment may be enough to violate the law. A hostile work environment lawyer will be able to determine whether the harassment and other hostile conduct was severe or frequent enough to be illegal.
How Can You Prove An Illegal Hostile Work Environment Claim?
In order to win an illegal hostile work environment a claim, you need to prove the following:
- You suffered harassment because of your race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or disability.
- The harassment was severe or pervasive.
- The harassment negatively affected you.
- The harassment would have negatively affected a reasonable person in your position.
- If the harasser was a co-worker, your employer knew or should have known about the harassment and did nothing to prevent or remedy it.
If the harasser was your supervisor and the harassment culminated in you being fired or demoted, your employer is automatically liable. If, however, your supervisor’s harassment did not result in you being fired or demoted, your employer will win if it can prove:
- It had procedures in place for preventing and remedying harassment or discrimination.
- You unreasonably failed to use those procedures.
Importantly, as discussed more below, the type of damages you can receive for workplace harassment under these laws is different.
How Do I File A Hostile Work Environment Claim?
Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, and the PHRA both require hostile work environment victims to file their claims with the EEOC or the PHRC before going to court. This is called “exhausting administrative remedies.”
If you file your hostile work environment claim with the EEOC in Pennsylvania, it will automatically be filed with the PHRC. The same is true if you file first with the PHRC. While you are not required to have an attorney in order to file the complaint, hiring an experienced hostile work environment lawyer is crucial to your success. Even at this preliminary stage, you must navigate many complex rules and procedures. Therefore, failure to do so can harm your case.
What Is The Deadline To File A Hostile Work Environment Claim With The EEOC Or PHRC?
To protect your hostile work environment claim, you must file a complaint with the EEOC or the PHRC within 180 days of the last hostile or harassing act. If you file your hostile work environment claim with the EEOC, it will automatically be filed with the PHRC. The same is true if you file first with the PHRC.
If you miss the 180-day deadline, you can still protect your federal hostile work environment claim under Title VII, the ADA, or the ADEA. To do so, you must file your complaint with the EEOC within 300 days of the last hostile or harassing act. However, you will lose your PHRA claim.
If you do not file your complaints by these deadlines, you may lose your claims forever. That’s why it is important to have an experienced hostile work environment attorney handle the process for you.
What Kind Of Damages Can Be Recovered For A Hostile Work Environment Claim?
Generally, there are three types of damages you can recover for your hostile work environment claim:
- Economic damages (e.g., past and future lost wages)
- Compensatory damages (e.g., emotional distress and humiliation)
- Punitive damages (to punish the employer for intentional misconduct)
Title VII, the ADA, and the PHRA also place limits on the kinds and amounts of damages you can recover if you suffer a hostile work environment. Under Title VII, for example, there is no cap on economic damages. However, the combined amount of compensatory and punitive damages you can recover is limited based on the size of your employer:
- For employers with 15-100 employees, the combined limit is $50,000.
- For employers with 101-200 employees, the combined limit is $100,000.
- For employers with 201-500 employees, the combined limit is $200,000.
- For employers with more than 500 employees, the combined limit is $300,000.
Like Title VII and the ADA, the PHRA does not limit economic damages. Unlike Title VII and the ADA, however, the PHRA does not limit your compensatory damages and does not allow punitive damages.
The different types of damages available to you under Title VII, the ADA, and the PHRA can be confusing. That is why you should retain an expert workplace harassment lawyer to help you recover the full extent of your damages.
How Long Will It Take To Resolve A Hostile Work Environment Case?
Generally, hostile work environment cases resolve within two years. Some cases may resolve in as little as six months while others may take several years. Your specific case, however, may take more or less time. This will depend on several factors, including:
- The nature and complexity of your case
- The number of people you sue
- The number of witnesses
- Whether your employer has insurance to cover your claim
- The kinds and amounts of damages you are claiming
- The court where you file your lawsuit
- The willingness of your employer to settle your case
If you handle your hostile work environment case on your own, it can take a lot longer to resolve. This can cause a lot of uncertainty, stress, and wasted time. In order to make sure that your case is moving toward resolution, it is necessary to have a strong and knowledgeable workplace harassment lawyer by your side.