Liability for Toxic Workplace Cultures

Title VII is meant to protect employees from discrimination and has historically been a crucial tool for creating social change in the workplace. But when considering modern-day workplace discrimination wrought by “toxic workplace cultures” defined herein, Title VII’s frameworks for confronting systemic discrimination prove outdated and ineffective. This Note proposes the codification of a new theory of discrimination under Title VII targeting toxic workplace cultures, with substantive and procedural elements working in tandem to better enable plaintiffs to collectively bring actions to hold employers accountable for fostering discriminatory environments. Part I defines toxic workplace cultures and walks through case studies of such cultures in action. Part II explains the existing frameworks of Title VII and why they do not provide recourse for victims of toxic workplace cultures. Part III proposes a solution through codifying a new cause of action for toxic workplace cultures under the statute and offers a brief case study highlighting a potential outcome were this proposal to be implemented.