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When Can You Sue Over A Hostile Work Environment?

If you are like most people, you probably have had a boss with whom you didn’t get along. If you work at a job at which your boss has a bad temper, you might feel as if going to work is similar to going to war. While treating employees poorly is unprofessional, you might not be sure whether the manner in which your boss behaves is illegal. Here is what the attorneys at Swartz Swidler believe that you should know about how the law treats hostile work environments.

What is a hostile work environment?

While a hostile work environment might seem like a subjective phrase, the law specifically defines what it is considered to be. Screaming, yelling or going off are not specifically unlawful. However, your boss might cross the line if his or her behavior meets the following criteria:

  • Your boss targets employees who are members of a protected class;
  • Your boss’s behavior is extreme enough that it changes the conditions and terms of an employee’s employment; and
  • The employee or group of employees have complained about what is occurring, but nothing was done by the company.

Schedule an appointment today. Call (856) 685-7420 or

Schedule an appointment today.
Call (856) 685-7420 or

Pattern of discrimination

In order to be unlawful, the behavior of your boss has to be discriminatory in nature.

The first point boils down to this: The behavior has to have a discriminatory element to it. Members of protected classes are protected against discrimination based on their characteristics. The protected classes include race, color, sex, religion, age, disability and genetic information. If your boss’s outbursts include sexist language, racial slurs or other similar behavior that is directed towards a protected group, the behavior may satisfy the first criteria to establish that your work environment is hostile.

Working conditions that are unbearable

You must also be able to show that your boss’s outbursts make your working conditions unbearable. To satisfy this criterion, you must be able to show that your work environment was more than simply unpleasant. The behavior or conduct must be pervasive and severe enough that it interferes with your ability to do your job or that it prevents you from moving forward in your career. In most cases, you will need to be able to prove that there were repeated incidents rather than a single incident.

You complained, but nothing was done

Before you can file a lawsuit, you must first give your employer a chance to fix the situation. To do this, you must submit a complaint to your employer. Unfortunately, some businesses try to ignore difficult situations instead of confronting senior employees.

What you can do

You should also be aware that your customers or coworkers can be responsible for their behavior that creates a hostile work environment in some cases. If your work environment is hostile, you should talk to an attorney. Fill out our contact form, and one of the employment lawyers from Swartz Swidler will get back to you soon.

Most Frequently Asked Question: Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact one of our attorneys. For more information check out the FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page

Most Frequently Asked Question:
Do I Have A Case?

While it is true that every case is different, The law is pretty clear in most cases. The best way to determine if you have a case is contact one of our attorneys. For more information on a just a few scenarios checkout the flip box FAQ below or visit our FAQ Page.

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733

Our Locations

Cherry Hill Headquarters

1101 Kings Hwy N
Suite 402
Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034

Phone: (856) 685-7420
Fax: (856) 685-7417

Philadelphia Satellite Office

123 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: (215) 995-2733