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3 Things That May Indicate a Hostile Work Environment

What the law says about toxic workplaces

Is being rude and abrasive at work against the law?

In most cases, the answer is obviously no. There are no legal standards that govern workplace civility.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, what if someone’s hostility is directed only toward women or people of a certain race?

That sort of behavior may create a hostile work environment and in some cases, it may be unlawful. In general, a hostile work environment is one in which discrimination or harassment is so severe that it changes the terms and conditions of a person’s or a group of people’s employment.

Let’s take a closer look at three signs that may indicate that you’re working in a hostile work environment.

Rude for a reason

To prove a hostile work environment, you must be able to show you were targeted because of your inclusion in a protected class.

Protected classes may pertain to:

  • race/color
  • religion
  • sex
  • pregnancy
  • national origin
  • age
  • disability
  • genetic information
  • sexual orientation

Negative impact on job conditions

As we mentioned before, a hostile work environment requires behavior that is more than just rude. That is, the behavior must be so severe and pervasive that it interferes with your ability to do your job.

For example, maybe you’ve been repeatedly belittled or ridiculed about your gender, religion, or national origin.

Or perhaps you were set up to fail, or intentionally prevented from completing a job task.

You must make a complaint

One key element to proving a hostile work environment is that your employer should have an opportunity to remedy the situation.

That means you have to speak up about what’s happening. File a complaint with your human resources department or your supervisor. If you have a company handbook, be sure to follow the procedures for making a complaint.

If the complaint is not addressed, or is inadequately addressed, you should speak to an employment law attorney about your rights.

Contact us for a consultation now

If you believe that you’re being subjected to a hostile work environment, it’s a good idea to seek out legal representation.

Call or contact us online today to discuss your unique situation.

For further reading, visit Basic Elements of an Employment Discrimination Claim.