Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment usually takes place when an employee is in an intolerable work environment. There is often an offensive or intimidating atmosphere that the harasser has created.  This type of environment is one in which any reasonable person would feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Most people find a hostile work environment an impossible place to adequately perform their job. Different types of comments, actions and behaviors contribute to a hostile work environment and include both verbal and physical abuse. With any harassment claim, the harasser can be a colleague or a superior, male or female.

To establish a hostile work environment involves many components. It is not enough to have a "bad" boss or obnoxious co-workers. For behavior to be deemed harassment or discriminatory, it must be directed at a protected class of employee based on gender, race, age, religion, or disability. The hostility must also be frequent or long-term, and not an isolated incident such a joke in poor taste. The victim or others witnessing the harassment must feel intimidated at work. Examples of offensive conduct that meets the legal definition of a hostile work environment include threats of termination without cause, demands for sexual favors in exchange for plum assignments or promotions, derogatory or insulting remarks about you, or displays of offensive materials. Another important component is that the company must be aware of the inappropriate behavior and is given the opportunity to rectify the harassment problem.

Proving a hostile work environment requires documentation that you asked for the behavior to stop, and told a manager, department head or human resources staff about the harassment, but the situation did not improve. Hostile work environment can also be a direct result of a claim you made to a governmental agency against your employer such as filing of a worker’s compensation claim. If you do file a complaint of any kind, it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you.

If you are experiencing a hostile work environment, you should talk to an attorney about your rights in the workplace.  The attorneys’ at Yarian and associates have the knowledge and experience to help you with your employment law matters. Call us today to schedule a free consultation appointment. 


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