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For example, if an employee reported safety violations at work, was injured, attempted to join a union, or reported regulatory violations by management, and management's response was to harass and pressure the employee to quit.

Employers have tried to force employees to quit by imposing unwarranted discipline, reducing hours, cutting wages, or transferring the complaining employee to a distant work location.

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Instead, an employee will have to prove that she or he has been treated in a hostile manner because of her or his protected class, such as gender, age, race, national origin, disability status, and similar protected traits.

Importantly, the hostile work environment is gender neutral, that is, men can sexually harass men or women and women can sexually harass men or women.

Small issues, annoyances, and isolated incidents typically are not considered to be illegal.

To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to a reasonable person.

In many United States jurisdictions, a hostile work environment is not an independent legal claim.