What Does a Hostile Work Environment Look Like?

Not everyone loves their job, but for some people, work can be a toxic place where they are subjected to bullying, aggressions, and violations of their rights. Such an environment is referred to as a hostile work environment. Below are some examples of what a hostile work environment might look like.

Examples of hostile workplaces

Generally, the components that comprise a hostile work environment include a situation where pervasive and severe discrimination interferes with a person’s ability to work and move their career forward. Some possible examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Interfering with career progression of a particular race of employees by refusing to consider specific candidates for jobs or promotions;
  • Regular dismissal of harassment claims made by women;
  • Bullying based on a protected class;
  • Permitted use of vulgar, racist, or otherwise offensive statements and images;
  • Derogatory comments or penalties directed at pregnant women; and
  • Intentional exclusion of older employees in work-related events.

When these actions are ongoing, and management does not take adequate steps to stop or change them, affected employees could have grounds to pursue legal action.

Changing, preventing a hostile work environment

If you are an employee and feel like you are working in a hostile environment, you can take steps to protect yourself and your rights. Addressing an offender directly and asking them to stop inappropriate behavior can be one option. If this is not possible or if you try to do so and your attempts are ineffective, reporting the misconduct to management is another option.

If you are an employer who receives a complaint about ongoing harassment or discrimination, you can protect yourself and the victims by taking the matter seriously. Investigate claims, take action against perpetrators, and set or reset expectations for appropriate workplace conduct and policies.

Hostile work environments can stunt career growth and contribute to employee dissatisfaction and distress. Not to mention, state and federal laws prohibit companies from creating or allowing such conditions to continue unchecked.

Thus, if allegations of this type of harassment arise, all parties can benefit from consulting an attorney regarding their legal options.