Single Anti-Gay Remark Can Create a Hostile Work Environment

Thank God we live and work in New Jersey, where the anti-discrimination laws are strong and the Courts are tough against bigoted employers. Our appeals court recently held that calling an employee a “stupid fag” just once is enough to create a hostile work environment. Moreover, the appeals court ruled that the single anti-gay epithet was potentially enough to support a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. This claim is notoriously hard to prove, since the plaintiff is required to show that the hurtful conduct was “so extreme or outrageous as to go beyond all bounds of decency in a civilized society.”

This decision looks a lot like the landmark case of Taylor v. Metzger, in which the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a single remark of “jungle bunny” was enough to create a racially hostile work environment. Taken together, these cases make it unmistakably clear that New Jersey is a “no tolerance” state when it comes to bigoted or prejudiced remarks in the workplace.