You have a right to perform your duties at work without fear of harassment or discrimination. Sex discrimination occurs when someone treats you differently because of your gender, sex, sexual orientation or pregnancy.
According to the EEOC, harassment is illegal when it creates a hostile work environment.
What constitutes a hostile work environment?
Petty annoyances and isolated incidents do not typically result in a hostile work environment unless those instances happen over and over again. If the action is severe enough, it may become harassment.
It becomes a hostile environment when the conduct becomes so consistent or pervasive that you have to undergo harassment as a condition to work. Hostile work environments make it challenging to perform basic tasks or to want to remain at work.
Examples of harassment include slurs, epithets, offensive jokes, ridicule and insults. Hostile work environments can also include threats or intimidation. For example, a supervisor telling you he or she will not promote women with children is an example of sex discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Who can create a hostile work environment?
The most common people accused of creating a hostile work environment are supervisors, managers and employers. However, they are not the only ones who can commit sex discrimination. Other colleagues and clients can also create a hostile work environment. When you report sex discrimination, your employer or supervisor should make an effort to stop the actions of others.
If a supervisor’s actions result in a hostile work environment, the employer must prevent and correct the harassment. If your employer does not act, he or she becomes liable for the hostile work environment.