Washington Law Review


Employees in the United States are protected from unlawful harassment that rises to the level of a “hostile work environment.” Federal circuits recognize that employers could be liable under Title VII when their employees experience hostile work environments because of harassment from nonemployees. However, outside of Title VII, not all federal circuits have recognized that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protect employees from hostile work environments.

As a result, employees are vulnerable with respect to age and disability-based harassment. This Comment argues that all federal circuits should allow hostile work environment claims under the ADA and ADEA. The reasons to recognize hostile work claims under the ADA and ADEA are simple but powerful: to uphold uniformity in federal law, protect American workers equally from harassment based on a protected characteristic, and recognize the influence of Title VII. Additionally, this Comment argues that liability should extend under the ADA and ADEA when employees experience hostile work environments due to nonemployee harassment. Because Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA each intend to prohibit unlawful discrimination in employment, the ADA and ADEA should be treated the same as Title VII in this context.

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