Hostile Work Environment | Shegerian & Associates, Inc.

Not everyone loves their job, but even if you adore what you do, a hostile work environment can make you hate going to work. Whenever you put a group of people together, there will be conflicts. But in a professional setting, conflicts should be kept to a minimum, and hostility should be ended immediately. If you believe you work in a hostile environment, check out these facts you need to know.

Negative Effects of a Hostile Work Environment

Depending on the extent of the hostility, a hostile work environment can slow production for everyone. However, if you are a direct target of hostility, it can drastically affect your personal and professional life. Victims of workplace bullying often develop stress, anxiety, sleeping difficulties, and ulcers in and outside of work.

Bullying may make it harder to voice your opinion at work. Similarly, productivity may slow because you are distracted and worried any mistakes may lead to more harassment. You may also be too busy thinking of ways to fix the situation, avoid the situation, find help, and avoid the bully to actually work.

Common Ways a Work Environment Becomes Hostile

Hostile work environments become hostile because of discrimination. Federal law protects against discrimination and harassment based on race, color, sex, age, religion, and disability. Some states have also added laws to protect against discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender identity, and political views.

Someone may bully you because one of the listed items, or they may just bully you because they think you are a good target for their anger. This may include humiliating you, intimidating you, and making inappropriate comments or jokes.

However, the comments and jokes don’t have to be directed at you for it to be considered a hostile workplace. For example, if you frequently overhear someone complain about another employee because of their race, it can start to affect the entire workplace.

Legal Requirements for a Hostile Work Environment

You can’t simply accuse any employer of creating a hostile work environment; certain legal requirements deem a work environment hostile.

Naturally, if you are harassed for a protected classification (age, sex, etc.), it is a hostile workplace.

In addition, the problem needs to have lasted for a while. You can’t sue because of one offhand comment about your gender. Of course, you should still report this to HR. That way, if the behavior continues, you have proof. If the behavior has gone on for a long time, you have a better chance of proving a hostile work environment, especially if you reported it but your employer did nothing to fix it.

Last, the hostility has to be severe and affect your work.

Solutions to a Hostile Work Environment

If the work environment is just starting to become hostile, talk with your HR department. They may not even be aware of the unwanted behavior. Once you bring it to their attention, they can start to make changes, such as firing hostile employees.

If the harassment is mild, you may want to try difficult conversations and conflict resolution. With the right tools, you may be able to talk to the person harassing you and get them to stop. If your employer is the one harassing you, or they have done nothing to stop the harassment, it may be time to contact an attorney to discuss your rights and a potential lawsuit.

Workplace hostility can make it hard to want to do your job. Even if you are still motivated to work, the harassment may preoccupy you, reducing productivity. If you want to stand up for yourself against workplace harassment and hostility, contact us at the law offices of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., today.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.