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The Truth Re: Hostile Work Environment Claims

One of the most common misconceptions non-lawyers have about employment law is that there is a generalized claim for a "hostile work environment."  In Texas, just because your boss is hostile, yells at you, demeans you in front of others, does not, in-and-of-itself, make for a hostile work environment claim (although it could give rise to other claims).  In Texas, generally, and under federal law as well, a hostile work environment claim will only exist if the hostility is motivated by an illegal factor such as age (if you are over 40), gender, race, color, national origin, religion, disability or retaliation for having complained about one of these forms of discrimination. The question we will usually ask a potential client who complains of a hostile work environment is whether the instigator treats everyone the same way.  In other words, is he or she an equal opportunity bully?  If so, you will probably have a difficult time proving you suffered discrimination by such treatment.  The most important question you can ask is "Why is he/she treating me this way?"  The second most important question is "What makes me believe that?"  If the answer to the first question is an unlawful motive and the answer to the second question is something other than speculation, you may have a hostile work environment case.  GSF

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