October 9, 2020 - 0 COMMENTS
The law does not legislate morality in a person. There is no statute that exists mandating an employer to be courteous or decent, for a person is free to do what he pleases and how he pleases it. Liberty, this “greatest of all rights,” is constitutionally guaranteed and Congress has no more right to restrain it than it has right to pass a law that necessarily curtails it. In fact, the only time that a law can effectively limit one’s liberty is if that liberty trespasses on another’s liberty and then the State would have to intervene.
Hence, while there are no laws that require courtesy in an employer, there are, however, laws that forbid certain kinds of mistreatment under certain circumstances.
One such circumstance is one that results in a hostile work environment. This is contemplated under most antidiscrimination laws, such as the hostile work environment disability provision.
What does “hostile work environment disability” mean?
The law does not explicitly discuss harassment, whether speech or non-speech. What the law does is simply to bar hostile work environment disability in the “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.”
Thus, hostile work environment disability does not necessarily mean that the person is harassed verbally or non-verbally. It is enough that the person feels discriminated against by reason of his disability and such discrimination results in a hostile work environment.
What “hostile work environment disability” ISN’T
Based on the above definition alone of what hostile work environment disability is, it is easy to get confused what necessarily constitutes a circumstance that could be termed as “hostile.” It discusses harassment, yet note that not all cases wherein a person feels harassed are considered as harassment in the legal sense. So what constitutes a hostile work environment disability? And what doesn’t?
For the latter inquiry, the first thing you need to remember is that a hostile work environment disability does not include employment practice per se – that is, it does not include the hiring, firing, promoting, or compensating of workers, even if these acts are applied in a way that is biased against particular groups of workers. Certainly, the acts are unlawful because they are discriminatory but this is not the kind of discrimination contemplated under a hostile work environment disability.
Rather, what is contemplated in a hostile work environment disability is how people interact with other people and whether in such interpersonal interactions a violation occurs. Hostile work environment disability discrimination, therefore, has nothing to do with how company procedures, such as the hiring, firing, and other types of employment practices, are applied. Thus, it is not about work conditions but about the conditions that people expose others to at work.