Boston, Holt & Durham, PLLC

How do I know if I am working in a hostile environment?

As an employee in Lawrenceburg, you expect your employer to provide you with a safe and nurturing work environment. Instead, you go to work each day dreading the morning meetings, collaborations and projects that you have to work on with obnoxious coworkers. With so much talk in the media about harassment and unfair workplace policies, you cannot help but wonder if you are working in a hostile job environment, and if you are, what should you do about it? 

What you may not realize is there is a thin line between a hostile environment and a normal one. You may feel like you are mistreated or do not get along well with some of your colleagues, but that does not necessarily mean that you are receiving or exposed to harassment, hostility and abuse at work. To better understand what constitutes a hostile work environment, take a look at the following information. 

The criteria for a workplace hostility claim 

Proving that a work environment is hostile is not easy; there could be many factors that create a toxic and unpleasant workplace. But if those actions and behaviors do not infringe upon anyone’s employment and civil rights, then you may not have a hostile work environment claim. For anything that is said to or about and done to you to classify as hostile, it must be: 

  • Offensive
  • Unwanted
  • Serious
  • Ongoing
  • Discriminatory 

Federal law prohibits behaviors that target a worker’s age, gender, race, disability, age and religion. Many employers and their workers continue mistreating others knowing that it is unlawful. The harmful actions that create a hostile environment do not refer to single, one-time incidents. Instead, it relates to harassment and hostility that occurs often enough to be pervasive. Also, a valid hostile workplace claim must show that harassment and mistreatment were so severe that it interferes in the claimant’s work life, such as affecting work performance, job attendance and other qualifying conditions. Teasing, one-time offensive comments and isolated incidents may not qualify as hostility. However, they may fall under discrimination and harassment.

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