Five Signs that you have a Hostile Work Environment

Hostile Work Environment

Sometimes the term ‘Hostile Work Environment’ gets used just about any unpleasant situation at work. For example – a rude and unprofessional boss, an intolerable coworker who is gossipy, or an unpleasant workplace. Though these problems can be difficult to deal with and make the work environment undesirable, they do not meet the legal definition of a Hostile Work Environment.

A lot of people don’t realize that they are dealing with a hostile environment or a toxic employer until it has taken a toll on their mental, physical, or financial well-being. A hostile work environment affects an employee’s ability to work. This could be due to unwelcome comments or conduct. The basis of the harassment could be due to an employee’s gender, color, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, disability, or any other legally protected status.

Hostile work environments are more common in today’s date than we even realize. A bad boss often contributes to an environment that employees may see as hostile. According to a Gallup survey a couple of years back, 67% of U.S. employees get detached at work. 51% say they're keenly looking for a new job or are open to one, and 47% say now is a good time to find a new job. Moreover, Gallup's data says that 70% of the variance in employee engagement is due to the environment provided by the manager.

Whatever the situation is, it should be made clear to the harasser that this type of behavior is not acceptable. Once you address it should stop immediately. However, if the behavior persists, it’s always best to contact an attorney or you can even consult a sexual harassment lawyer.

Here are 5 signs that you have a hostile work environment:

1) Consistent and Pervasive

The harassment is so severe that it interferes with an employee’s work performance. An abusive atmosphere can be created in the workplace. If you experience consistent and pervasive harassment or hostility or harmful actions, then you need to raise a red flag. If the behavior remains consistent even after reporting to Human Resources or higher authorities, consider a lawyer. Improper activities that take place often are more likely considered pervasive.

2) Employer ignoring hostile actions or behavior

It is imperative that the employer creates and maintains a safe work environment for all the employees. Under California Labor Code Section 6401:  “Every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.” In case the employer fails to do this, and the coworkers continue to treat you poorly, even after complaining to HR and someone with authority. You are likely in a bad environment and you need to approach an attorney. In this case, the employer can be legally responsible for the creation of a hostile work environment.

3) Aggression – verbal or non-verbal

Aggression could be anything, like, verbal or non-verbal attacks, mean and unkind comments, or spitefulness towards someone. Anger is normal and is a part of human emotion. However, this needs to be handled appropriately in a professional environment. If your boss is yelling at you more often or almost every day, or they are resorting to passive-aggressive behavior, report it. Additionally, if they push you and your coworkers into an unhealthy competition, raise a red flag.

4) Discriminatory behavior

Your boss or your employer can not make discriminatory or negative comments about your age, gender, race, religion, orientation, disability, or national origin. These categories have protection by the Equal Opportunity Commission. Thus, if they happen you are working in a hostile work environment. For example; you hear a hiring manager is biased against a group of people and keeps on rejecting applications of people who are older than a certain age, female applicants who get married or are pregnant, or someone foreign-born. You should always report such behavior when you see or hear it.

5) Ridiculing or Treating unfairly

Cracking jokes or teasing each other in the workplace is normal between colleagues. But if you see a coworker catcalling, physical assaulting or threatening, interfering with the work performance, is a part of malicious gossip or defaming a colleague, or someone setting up a social media group to ridicule a colleague, this is a sign of hostile work environment.

If you have been treated unfairly at work, consult a top harassment attorney as they know how to fight for what’s yours. They have the knowledge and expertise and know-how to win hostile work environment cases.

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