Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA). In addition, the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act (DDEA) protects workers from the same environment.

A hostile work environment requires that the offensive conduct creates an atmosphere so bad that a reasonable person would find it abusive and hostile and the actual victim subjectively finds abusive and hostile. Perhaps, most importantly, the harassment must be based on a protect class (race, gender/sex, disability, religion, age).

The Third Circuit Court in Andrews v. City of Phia., 895 F.d. 1469 (3d Cir. 1990) formulated a five part “totality of the circumstances” test which is applied to determine whether harassment is so serve or pervasis that the working environment becomes hostile or abusive:

  1. the employees suffered intentional discrimination because of their sex;
  2. the discrimination was pervasive and regular;
  3. the discrimination detrimentally affected the plaintiff;
  4. the discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the
    same sex in that position; and
  5. the existence of respondeat superior liability (employer is responsible for
    employee’s acts)

Dealing with a Hostile Work Environment as an employee can be overwhelming. It can be even more devastating when the harasser is your boss or owns the company. In addition, many companies provide complaint procedures which if not followed may jeopardize your rights in the future. Do not wait until you quit or get fired to hired an experienced employment attorney. The earlier you consult an experienced employment attorney, the better.

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