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A hostile work environment claim is not limited to a claim of sexual harassment. Harassing employees because of their legally protected status based on age, race, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, etc., is against the law.

Occasionally, I get calls from employees who wonder if the harassment they endure at work is illegal even though it is not sexual harassment. The answer is yes if the harassment is based on an employee’s protected legal status like age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.  If a supervisor ridicules an employee for any of these reasons, the company is strictly liable for illegal harassment. If the company knows that a co-worker or third party like a vendor is harassing an employee for any of these reasons, the employer has an affirmative legal obligation to investigate and take prompt corrective action.  Failure to do so triggers legal liability.

If you find yourself in this predicament, consult an experienced employment lawyer who can shepherd you through this complicated process. The lawyer may be able to help you save your job, stop the harassment, or negotiate a severance agreement.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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