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"Reasonable Victim Standard" & "Hostile Work Environment"

"Reasonable Victim Standard"

Determining whether or not the victim's working environment became hostile and abusive as a result of the discriminatory conduct consists of both an objective and subjective analysis. In other words, the victim must first have been actually affected in a way that would make his or her work environment hostile or abusive by being sufficiently offended or harmed. Second, it must be true that a reasonable person in the victim's position would find the misconduct to be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of his or her employment in order create a hostile or abusive work environment. This involves considering and recognizing all of the victim's circumstances to determine the reasonable effect of all of the relevant factors.

Under this standard, the court is permitted to consider evidence of the differences in the ways that women and men are subjectively affected by the same behavior (discriminatory conduct) in the workplace to assist in determining whether a reasonable person in the victim's positon would be similarly and sufficiently disturbed.

"Hostile and Abusive Working Environment"

The misconduct must be sufficiently pervasive and severe to create a hostile and abusive working environment for the victim.

However, the fact that the victim employee is actually able to perform his or her work duties despite being faced with sexual harassment in the workplace does not destroy or prevent him or her from succeeding on a harassment claim. Thus, an actual disruption to the victim's work is not required.

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