What is a hostile work environment these days? Avoiding and defending harassment claims

A recent case from the 4th Circuit provides a useful study regarding what types of environments can reach the point of actionable hostility under Title VII

Good employers strive to create workplaces where their employees feel safe, respected and valued. Of course, even the most conscientious employers cannot eliminate all conflicts and misbehavior. Implementation and vigilant enforcement of policies and expectations regarding workplace conduct can, however, prevent isolated incidents from evolving into an actionable “hostile work environment.”

As the United States Supreme Court explained in Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., Title VII is violated when a workplace becomes “permeated with ‘discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult,’ … that is ‘sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.’”

Contributing Author

author image

Andrew P. Sherrod

Andrew P. Sherrod is a partner in the litigation section of Hirschler Fleischer (Richmond, Va.), who has an active practice before federal and state courts,...

Bio and more articles

Join the Conversation

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.