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Hugging Can Create a Hostile Work Environment, Ninth Circuit Rules--Are Your Employees Aware?

February 28, 2017View for printing

"He's just the hugging type"--we have all heard one time or another in the workplace. But is there a limit to platonic hugging in the workplace? The Ninth Circuit recently ruled there is.

In order to support a hostile work environment claim, a plaintiff has to show that he or she was subject to harassment that was either severe or pervasive. Put another way, the conduct at issue must either be really bad, or there has to be a lot of it. Even behavior that sounds relatively innocuous can create a hostile work environment if it is unwanted and happens frequently enough. This point was driven home by the Ninth Circuit last Thursday when it ruled that even hugging can create a hostile work environment if it is "unwelcome and pervasive."

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