Employment | Hostile Environment

The Personal Injury & Employment Law Center

Hostile Work Environments

 

The term “hostile work environment” is often misunderstood. At Locke & Quinn, we often get employees calling us or coming in for a consultation who want to sue the employer for working in a “hostile work environment.” However, just because you the employee might work in an unpleasant work environment does not mean that there is any legal cause of action. It is therefore important to understand and recognize what is an unlawful or illegal hostile work environment and what is just a very bad place to work.

 

What is an illegal hostile work environment?

An illegal hostile work environment is one in which an employee is the victim of unlawful harassment, or who is otherwise impacted by such unlawful harassment. But what makes harassment unlawful? First, the harassment has to be based on the victim’s membership in a protected class, meaning you the employee are being targeted because of your age, race, religion, national origin, disability, gender (including pregnancy and related medical conditions), or other legally protected status. Remember, being a member of a protected class is not enough; instead, that has to be the basis for the harassment. So, for example, if you are an employee with a disability, and your supervisor regularly insults your haircut, you have to show that the harassment is based on you having a disability – as opposed to your supervisor simply finding from a personal preference standpoint that your haircut is not to his or her liking. On the other hand, if your employer regularly insults your haircut and you must have it cut that way due to your disability, then the first prong of unlawful harassment might have been met.

In addition to being based on a victim’s membership in a protected class, illegal harassment also must be severe and pervasive. In other words the unlawful harassment must be really super bad. So, using the above example, if the supervisor’s ridicule about the haircut only happens once a month, that will not qualify as severe and pervasive. Also, in cases of sexual harassment, occasional flirtatious behavior or isolated incidents of relatively innocent commentary will not be considered unlawful. On the other hand, courts have found that, severe and frequent instances of harassment, such as the frequent use of especially offensive slurs or commentary, can create an illegal hostile work environment. And one really bad severe incident, such as a sexual assault, also often will qualify as unlawful.

 

What is NOT an illegal hostile work environment (legally speaking)?

Many employees have probably experienced a hostile work environment in the general sense – an angry or temperamental boss, difficult coworkers, or even clients who simply make day-to-day work extremely challenging. Unfortunately, none of these elements, on their own, give rise to a legal right of action. Employment in Virginia is “at will,” meaning that your employer is allowed to terminate you without cause, and you are likewise allowed to quit your job without providing a reason. Within that context, it is not illegal for an employer or supervisor to simply be mean or unfair, even in cases where such behavior reaches extremes. An employer is allowed to be a jerk and treat the employees in a rude manner provided that the employer is equally rude to everyone. Remember, some employers are simply unpleasant, and some supervisors or co-workers are equal-opportunity offenders who treat everyone crudely and with the same (or similar) degree of poor behavior. The best thing to do in such a situation is find another place to work that is in a pleasant environment.

 

What can I do about an unlawful hostile work environment?

If you are the victim of an unlawful hostile work environment, you may be entitled to the protection of federal and state laws, which provide remedies through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and through the courts.
At Locke and Quinn, we have decades of experience in a variety of employment matters, including unlawful hostile work environment claims. Please contact our office with any further inquiries about these services.

I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
My husband and I just recently finalized the adoption of our son thanks to Colleen! Our situation happened FAST, and Colleen never missed a beat. Colleen, Katie and Charli were all quick to answer any questions we had and made us feel confident in their ability to provide the services needed. We were blown away at the knowledge and organization Colleen had throughout this process as well! We intend to continue to grow our family through adoption again, and will be using Locke & Quinn!
Ashley Halsey
Ashley Halsey
2019-02-10T03:58:33+0000
My wife and I worked with Colleen Quinn and her paralegal Charli (CharSalle) on my daughter's international re-adoption. We are in Fairfax, VA and they were happy to work with us even though we weren’t local to them. Everything was done by email and mail. They answered all of our questions in a timely manner and were very knowledgeable about the process. We worked almost entirely with Charli after the initial emails and phone calls and she was great to work with. They filed all of our paperwork with our court, everything went smoothly, and we received our Final Order. Charli has always kept us in the loop about the process and sent us updates. We mailed original documents back and forth without any issue. Their legal fee was very competitive and better than most attorneys in our own area. We are very pleased with their work and assistance in getting our adoption finalized. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Thank you!
Ahmed Rashid
Ahmed Rashid
2018-12-20T14:52:57+0000
Great experience!! Everything I needed they took care of with a timely fashion! Highly recommend!
Morgan Williams Seay
Morgan Williams Seay
2018-08-21T00:14:11+0000
Bob Stiepock
Bob Stiepock
2017-10-23T19:39:04+0000
Personal Injury is a challenging event on many levels in ones life. Have you experienced a moment where you were injured and need to seek legal advice? You need to make a call to Colleen Quinn today. I began to research different law firms that handled Personal Injury. I interviewed several attorneys and spoke with large practices to small firms. I was impressed by Colleens resume and her work with women and the law. I will never regret hiring Colleen and her TEAM. The word TEAM is exactly what I received through out my case. My case was attacked with professionalism and the team was always in communication with me. When I would call to ask questions or to get a better explanation I was always made to feel as if I was the only client. As my case arrived closer to the trail date, my TEAM went into full 110%+ effort and preparation. Colleen was ALWAYS seeking to settle my case with the best outcome that she could. YOU WILL NOT FIND A MORE UPFRONT, HONEST, HARDWORKING-GET IT DONE ATTITUDE THAN THE TEAM OF COLLEEN M. QUINN!! MAKE THAT CALL TODAY-YOU WONT REGET IT!!
Lisa Moore Walker
Lisa Moore Walker
2017-09-17T03:54:10+0000
Cathy Tyree Herb
Cathy Tyree Herb
2013-07-30T17:33:44+0000
RICHMOND: 804-285-6253
CONTACT US

Hostile Environment


Hostile Work Environments

 

The term “hostile work environment” is often misunderstood. At Locke & Quinn, we often get employees calling us or coming in for a consultation who want to sue the employer for working in a “hostile work environment.” However, just because you the employee might work in an unpleasant work environment does not mean that there is any legal cause of action. It is therefore important to understand and recognize what is an unlawful or illegal hostile work environment and what is just a very bad place to work.

 

What is an illegal hostile work environment?

An illegal hostile work environment is one in which an employee is the victim of unlawful harassment, or who is otherwise impacted by such unlawful harassment. But what makes harassment unlawful? First, the harassment has to be based on the victim’s membership in a protected class, meaning you the employee are being targeted because of your age, race, religion, national origin, disability, gender (including pregnancy and related medical conditions), or other legally protected status. Remember, being a member of a protected class is not enough; instead, that has to be the basis for the harassment. So, for example, if you are an employee with a disability, and your supervisor regularly insults your haircut, you have to show that the harassment is based on you having a disability – as opposed to your supervisor simply finding from a personal preference standpoint that your haircut is not to his or her liking. On the other hand, if your employer regularly insults your haircut and you must have it cut that way due to your disability, then the first prong of unlawful harassment might have been met.

In addition to being based on a victim’s membership in a protected class, illegal harassment also must be severe and pervasive. In other words the unlawful harassment must be really super bad. So, using the above example, if the supervisor’s ridicule about the haircut only happens once a month, that will not qualify as severe and pervasive. Also, in cases of sexual harassment, occasional flirtatious behavior or isolated incidents of relatively innocent commentary will not be considered unlawful. On the other hand, courts have found that, severe and frequent instances of harassment, such as the frequent use of especially offensive slurs or commentary, can create an illegal hostile work environment. And one really bad severe incident, such as a sexual assault, also often will qualify as unlawful.

 

What is NOT an illegal hostile work environment (legally speaking)?

Many employees have probably experienced a hostile work environment in the general sense – an angry or temperamental boss, difficult coworkers, or even clients who simply make day-to-day work extremely challenging. Unfortunately, none of these elements, on their own, give rise to a legal right of action. Employment in Virginia is “at will,” meaning that your employer is allowed to terminate you without cause, and you are likewise allowed to quit your job without providing a reason. Within that context, it is not illegal for an employer or supervisor to simply be mean or unfair, even in cases where such behavior reaches extremes. An employer is allowed to be a jerk and treat the employees in a rude manner provided that the employer is equally rude to everyone. Remember, some employers are simply unpleasant, and some supervisors or co-workers are equal-opportunity offenders who treat everyone crudely and with the same (or similar) degree of poor behavior. The best thing to do in such a situation is find another place to work that is in a pleasant environment.

 

What can I do about an unlawful hostile work environment?

If you are the victim of an unlawful hostile work environment, you may be entitled to the protection of federal and state laws, which provide remedies through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and through the courts.
At Locke and Quinn, we have decades of experience in a variety of employment matters, including unlawful hostile work environment claims. Please contact our office with any further inquiries about these services.

I worked with Richard Locke over the past year and a half. During that time, he provided me with counsel that was intelligent, balanced and trustworthy. He was respectful of the difficulty of the situation, and provided an educated and thoughtful approach to the process. Rather than focus on the drama and minutiae of the case, Richard was driven to provide favorable legal results in the most positive way possible. In many ways, his demeanor helped to keep me focused and calm throughout the process. He combines a superior knowledge of the law with a wealth of experience inside and outside of the courtroom. This knowledge and experience was incredibly valuable as my case progressed to help steer its direction and my decisions. His office staff is very responsive, and a pleasure to work with as well.read more
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
18:39 18 May 18
My wife and I adopted a babygirl in 2015. A friend of mine, whose daughter is lawyer, recommended Colleen Quinn. We went for our initial consultation and we could tell immediately that Colleen was very knowledgeable and professional. She went into detail and gave us the costs associated with the adoption as well as every single step in the process. Colleen is very welcoming and easy to talk to. We cannot leave this review without mentioning our primary contact, Colleen's paralegal, CharSalle Charles (Charli). Without Charli, I don't think we would have made it through the adoption. Charli was there anytime we called to answer our questions and to provide support for us. Charli even came to the hospital the day after our daughter was born, to handle all the paperwork between us and the birth mother. We truly thank Locke and Quinn and especially Charli for their hard work and support. Our adoption was even finalized a month in advance of the initial date set forth. We highly recommend Locke and Quinn to any looking to adopt!!!read more
Tierre Christmas
Tierre Christmas
17:23 09 Feb 16
After doing quite a bit of research on the adoption process, we decided to set up an initial consultation with Colleen, and we found that first session very beneficial and informative. There were many things that impressed us about Colleen from the very beginning: her level of expertise and reputation as an adoption attorney, the accolades she's received throughout her career, her friendly and personable nature, and her willingness to provide us with comprehensive information about the adoption process including projected fees. We also wanted to make sure that we were being well represented and advocated for, and quickly knew that Colleen would not only guide us through the adoption process, but advocate for us as well. Colleen is both passionate about what she does and compassionate toward all parties involved in the adoption process.Colleen’s paralegal, CharSalle (Charli) is an absolute treasure! Charli was readily available to answer questions by phone or by email. She would reach out to us if there was a birth mother interested in speaking or meeting with us after reviewing our profile. We were matched with a birth mother in November 2014, and our daughter was born in February 2015. Colleen and Charli guided us through the initial meetings with the birth parents, the open adoption agreements, and they stayed in touch with us by phone and email when our daughter was born. Our adoption was finalized in six months, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of communication we received, and continue to receive, from Colleen and Charli as well as the level of expertise and true passion they have for guiding families through the adoption process. We highly recommend Colleen, Charli, and the staff at Locke & Quinn to anyone considering adoption!!!!read more
Joe Ana
Joe Ana
16:35 15 Feb 16
kathleen cossaboon
kathleen cossaboon
01:35 31 May 18
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
Sharon Robertson Dewitt
19:20 23 Aug 17
Facebook API Rating: {"error":{"message":"Error validating access token: The session has been invalidated because the user changed their password or Facebook has changed the session for security reasons.","type":"OAuthException","code":190,"error_subcode":460,"fbtrace_id":"HIwQSeSeUDy"}}
SEND US A MESSAGE
4928 W BROAD ST
PO BOX 11708
RICHMOND, VA 23230

PHONE: (804) 285-6253
FAX: (804) 545-9400

SEND US A MESSAGE

BACK TO TOP
Google Rating
5.0