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Hostile Work Environment Claims under Title VII – Brief Overview

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes it “an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”  42 U.S.C. Section 2000e-2(a).  This provision further protects against discrimination that creates a hostile work environment.

To establish a hostile work environment claim under Title VII, a plaintiff must show: (1) he/she suffered intentional discrimination because of his/her membership in a protected class; (2) the discrimination was pervasive and regular; (3) the discrimination detrimentally affected him/her; (4) the discrimination would have detrimentally affected a reasonable person similarly situated in that protected class; and (5) there is a basis for employer liability.  Saidu-Kamara v. Parkway Corp., 155 F.Supp.2d 436 (Ed.Pa. 2001).

The discrimination complained of must be severe and/or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of the plaintiff’s employment and create an abusive working environment.  In determining whether a plaintiff has demonstrated the elements of a hostile work environment, a court will consider the frequency of the discrimination, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or a mere offensive utterance, and whether it reasonably interferes with the plaintiff’s work performance.  Id.

If you think you might be a victim of a hostile work environment, please contact the experienced lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green in Philadelphia, who are licensed to practice law in all courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.