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What is Hostile Work Environment?


A work or learning environment is "hostile" when unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical behavior of a prohibited nature is severe and pervasive enough to unreasonably interfere with an employee's work or a student's learning, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment to a "reasonable person." The hostile environment standard focuses on the "poisoning" of a work or learning environment rather than on tangible actions directed against a person. To constitute hostile environment harassment, the prohibited behaviors must be offensive to a "reasonable person." An employer, teacher, co-worker, vendor, or fellow student can create a hostile environment. Individuals holding positions of authority are responsible for ensuring that employees or students do not create a hostile environment.


A single incident or a few incidents may not necessarily rise to the level of illegal harassment; however, a single extreme incident could constitute prohibited discrimination or harassment. Each matter needs to be evaluated individually. If severe and pervasive enough to interfere with work or learning, the following types of conduct may create a hostile environment:


  • Jokes or insults

  • Flirting

  • Comments about a person's body or sex life

  • Sexually degrading comments

  • Repeated invitations for dates

  • Abusive language directed at a person because of his or her belonging to a protected class

  • Sexually crude hand gestures, leering at the body, sexually suggestive winking, standing too close

  • Display of posters, cartoons, etc. regarding sexually suggestive themes, race, religion, etc.

  • Pornography

  • Sexually suggestive "gifts"

  • "Stalking" behavior

  • Touching, hugging, kissing, or patting

  • Intentional and repeated brushing or bumping against a person's body

  • Restraining or blocking a person's movement


The Law Firm of David A. Young, LLC represents executives and employees who have been the victims of a hostile work environment throughout the State of Ohio. Attorney David Young has been certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a Specialist in the area of Labor and Employment Law. Attorney Young has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer in the State of Ohio for the years 2009 through 2013.



If you feel your rights under the Equal Pay Act have been violated, The Law Firm of David A. Young, LLC provides a free, no-obligation consultation.

         Mr. Young's knowledge of employment law is excellent. During the time I worked with him for my law suit against a former employer I never had any doubt that I was in very good hands. I had no previous experience with this type of situation but after talking with David and explaining my situation he confirmed my thinking that I had not been treated properly. I did not hesitate to hire David to bring suit. He explained, start to finish, all the steps that would be taken and what to expect. I think it is also important to know that his staff is equally knowledgeable and very patient and kind to work with. My case was settled to my satisfaction.

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