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Characteristics of a hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Employment Law

Some work environments are simply challenging, while others are openly hostile. However, hostile work environments start somewhere in the middle.

You may have difficulty evaluating the atmosphere at work. Therefore, these are a few characteristics of a hostile work environment.

Hostile work environment defined

An angry or aggressive boss or coworker is challenging, but their actions may not constitute a hostile work environment. Illegal behavior, often involving sexual harassment, is the key. In addition, these actions must target individuals with protected characteristics, such as sex, religion or race. Also, you do not have to be the direct target of the harassment.

Comments about protected classes

If someone you work with consistently makes comments or jokes about race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity or gender, the environment is hostile. These individuals also cannot display photos or offensive symbols concerning these protected characteristics. Discrimination of any kind due to these factors also contributes.

Threats and physical actions

Hostility occurs when a coworker, customer or supervisor consistently threatens you or other employees. Also, no one should intimidate you or others in your workplace. Harassment also includes any unwanted touching or physical assault. Sexual harassment of any kind can turn an environment hostile. This includes jokes or comments and touching.

Workplace environmental characteristics

Hostile work environments affect everyone. Therefore, you may observe many employees experiencing burnout, arguing with each other or complaining about their work. You may have employees who are frequently absent or feel insecure in their positions due to layoffs. Finally, your employer may not provide adequate resources.

To qualify for a hostile work environment, the harassment should affect your capabilities and how well you can do your job. Harassment is not limited to your employer, boss or supervisor, but it can also involve your coworkers or customers.

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