An employer is required to prevent an employee from being subject to a “hostile work environment.” But what constitutes a hostile work environment and what steps is an employer required to take to protect an employee from this type of behavior? These will be some of the issues in a new action brought by gay Brooklyn food service worker against the NBA’s Houston Rockets and his employer, Levy Restaurant Holdings, which handles catering at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
In that case, the employee claims that while setting up a buffet in the Rockets’ locker room, players on the Rockets taunted him and used homophobic slurs. He claims that he reported the incident to his manager and that he received an apology from the New Jersey Nets.
Generally, to subject to the employer to liability, the behavior or communication must be pervasive, lasting over time, and not limited to an off-color remark or two that a coworker found annoying and should be reported to the employer so that it has the opportunity to intervene.
It is likely that he wouldn’t have prevailed in a case against his employer, but the situation apparently did not end there – – at least according to the employee. He claims he was then barred from working in dressing rooms and private VIP areas (which are lucrative assignments because of overtime pay) and was later suspended without pay, which he contends were retaliation for his complaint against the Rockets.
An employer cannot retaliate against an employee who makes complaints about his employer or fellow employees. While the employee may have had difficulty in a sexual harassment case, if his employer truly retaliated against him for making the complaint, the employer helped make the employee’s case a better one. Read more here: