What Makes a Work Environment Hostile?
Legal Guidelines Exist That You Need to Know to Define a Hostile Workplace
What constitutes a hostile work environment? Some employees believe that a , an unpleasant work environment, a rude coworker, failure to , or the lack of , and recognition can create a hostile work environment.
And, yes, admittedly, many of these issues do contribute to an environment that may not be . The environment without employee friendly offerings can be awful. A bad boss contributes particularly to an environment that employees may see as hostile.
Traditionally, when employees . (More recent thinking is that a lack of career development and opportunity is a larger contributor.) All of these factors can make an environment seem hostile to an employee's wants and needs. And, they are.
Requirements for a Hostile Work Environment
But, the reality is that for a workplace to be hostile, certain legal criteria must be met.
A hostile work environment is created by a boss or coworker whose actions, or behavior make . This means that the behavior altered the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment for employees.
Additionally, the behavior, actions or communication must be in nature. Discrimination is monitored and guided by the which was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So, a coworker who talks loudly, snaps her gum, and leans over your desk when she talks with you, is , but it does not create a hostile work environment. On the other hand, a coworker who tells sexually explicit jokes and sends around images of nude people is guilty of and creating a .
A boss who verbally berates you about your , your , your gender, or your race is guilty of creating a hostile work environment. Even if the comments are casual, said with a smile, or played as jokes, this does not excuse the situation.
This is especially true if you asked the individual to stop and the behavior continues. This, by the way, is always the first step in addressing inappropriate behavior at work—ask the inappropriately behaving boss or coworker to stop.
Legal Requirements for a Hostile Environment
The legal requirements for a hostile work environment include these.
- The actions or behavior must such as age, religion, disability, or race.
- The behavior or communication must be pervasive, lasting over time, and not limited to an off-color remark or two that a coworker found annoying. These incidents should be for needed intervention.
- The problem becomes significant and pervasive if it is all around a worker, continues over time,
- and is not and addressed effectively enough by the organization to make the behavior stop.
- The hostile behavior, actions, or communication must be severe. Not only is it pervasive over time, but the hostility must seriously disrupt the employee’s work. The second form of severity occurs if the hostile work environment . For example, the employee failed to receive a promotion or a as a result of the hostile behavior.
- It is reasonable to assume that the employer knew about the actions or behavior and did not sufficiently intervene. Consequently, the employer can be liable for the creation of a hostile work environment.
Dealing With a Hostile Work Environment
The first step an employee needs to take if he or she is experiencing a hostile work environment is to ask the offending employee to stop their behavior or communication. If an employee finds this difficult to do on his or her own, or Human Resources.
When inappropriate behavior is coming from another employee, they are your best in-house resources. They also serve as your witness to the fact that you asked the offending employee to stop the behavior.
You want to put the offending employee on notice that their behavior is offensive, discriminatory, inappropriate, and that you won't tolerate the behavior. (In the majority of cases, the employee will stop the behavior. They may not have realized the degree to which you found the actions offensive.)
These resources will help you address a hostile work environment before the hostility escalates. You can pick between , , holding a , and .
They will all help you creating your hostile work environment. These skills and ideas may be all that you need since many bullies are spineless when confronted.
Especially in instances where you have reported the behavior of a manager or supervisor to the appropriate manager or HR staff member, the behavior must stop. Additionally, the reported individual as a payback for your reporting of his or her improper behavior.
An employee who experiences a hostile work environment, and has attempted to make the behavior stop without success, though, should go to his or her manager, employer, or Human Resources staff. The first step in getting help is to ask for help. Your employer must have the opportunity to investigate the complaint and eliminate the behavior.
A later hostile workplace lawsuit you institute will flounder if the employer was unaware of the situation and had not been given the opportunity to address the behavior and hostile environment. This is in your hands because, in most workplaces, hostile, offensive behavior is noticed and addressed when it is obvious or seen by many employees.
Employees rarely need to address the behavior on their own. When the behavior is not widely viewed or if it happens only in secret without witnesses, you must bring the hostile behavior to your employer's attention.
Plus, you may find yourself surprised at how vigilantly your employer acts to prevent current and future incidents that may contribute to a hostile work environment. Many, many employers regard harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment as following a confirming investigation. Give your employer a chance to do what's right.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. , or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.