8 PJI 2.1 | ADEA | HOSTILE OR ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
In determining whether a work environment is "hostile" you must look at all of the circumstances, which may include:
• The total physical environment of [plaintiff's] work area.
• The degree and type of language and insult that filled the environment before and after [plaintiff] arrived.
• The reasonable expectations of [plaintiff] upon entering the environment.
• The frequency of the offensive conduct.
• The severity of the conduct.
• The effect of the working environment on [plaintiff’s] mental and emotional well-being.
• Whether the conduct was unwelcome, that is, conduct [plaintiff] regarded as unwanted or unpleasant.
• Whether the conduct was pervasive.
• Whether the conduct was directed toward [plaintiff].
• Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating.
• Whether the conduct was merely a tasteless remark.
• Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with [plaintiff's] work performance.
Conduct that amounts only to ordinary socializing in the workplace, such as occasional horseplay, occasional use of abusive language, tasteless jokes, and occasional teasing, does not constitute an abusive or hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can be found only if there is extreme conduct amounting to a material change in the terms and conditions of employment. Moreover, isolated incidents, unless extremely serious, will not amount to a hostile work environment.
It is not enough that the work environment was generally harsh, unfriendly, unpleasant, crude or vulgar to all employees. In order to find a hostile work environment, you must find that [plaintiff] was harassed because of [his/her] age. The harassing conduct may, but need not be age-based in nature. Rather, its defining characteristic is that the harassment complained of was linked to [plaintiff’s] age. The key question is whether [plaintiff], as a person of [plaintiff’s age] was subjected to harsh employment conditions to which substantially younger employees were not.
It is important to understand that, in determining whether a hostile work environment existed at the [employer’s workplace] you must consider the evidence from the perspective of a reasonable person of [plaintiff’s age] in the same position. That is, you must determine whether a reasonable person of [plaintiff’s age] would have been offended or harmed by the conduct in question. You must evaluate the total circumstances and determine whether the alleged harassing behavior could be objectively classified as the kind of behavior that would seriously affect the psychological or emotional well-being of a reasonable person of [plaintiff’s age]. The reasonable person of [plaintiff’s age] is simply one of normal sensitivity and emotional make-up.
This instruction can be used if the court wishes to provide a more detailed instruction on what constitutes a hostile work environment than those set forth in Instructions 8.1.3 and 8.1.4. This instruction is substantively identical to the definition of hostile work environment in Title VII cases. See Instruction 5.2.1.
(Last Updated July 2019)
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