I posted this (with some updates added) on Facebook:
The term "hostile work environment" is a legal term of art. It is applied under federal anti-discrimination laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Google:
A person experiences a "hostile work environment" when:
(1) they are subjected to slurs, insults, jokes or other verbal comments or physical contact or intimidation BECAUSE OF their race, color, gender, religion, disability, age, or national origin;
(2) the conduct is unwelcome;
(3) the conduct is so severe or pervasive as to alter the victim's employment and create an abusive or hostile environment;
(4) the victim actually perceived the environment to be abusive or hostile; and
(5) a reasonable person would consider the environment to be abusive or hostile. It has to be more than a mere offensive utterance. This is the legal definition.
There is no special protection under the law (or TUSD policy) against general hostility; instead, we have tort law for that.
For someone to get a payout suggests to me that they had at least a good enough argument to get into court. Someone alleged that I created a hostile work environment for one in TUSD. They were wrong, and there was no chance they could get me into court. The legal standard is high and clear.
[Fact: The person who filed a complaint against me filed a "complaint of harassment," not a hostile work environment complaint. The person who requested the item on tonight's agenda and the person who added it to the agenda are not much interested in details and have made a verifiably incorrect assertion. I am into the details. I've heard those are what matter most ;) ]
If you can get a payout, the suggestion is that you have enough proof to lead to litigation--to get into court. Seems like that was the case for Raul.