Employers across the board have made many attempts in recent years to make their work environments better for all employees. Unfortunately, it is impossible for every company to control every employee, and hostile work environments still emerge.
But what contributes to a hostile work environment? How serious are these issues? Is discrimination involved in any way in shaping these negative environments that ultimately lead to people quitting or taking legal action?
What is a hostile work environment?
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a look at what makes a hostile work environment. In short, a hostile work environment is any workplace environment that prevents an employee from feeling safe enough to complete their job as assigned. The conduct in question must thus be either persistent or severe enough that “a reasonable person” would consider the environment hostile, abusive or intimidating. This can happen due to the conduct of coworkers or supervisors alike.
Examples of odious conduct
The conduct in question must also exist as a condition of continued employment, i.e. you simply have to deal with it if you wish to keep your job. The conduct in question can span a wide range of potential actions and behaviors. Some examples include sexual harassment, slander, racial discrimination, discrimination based on religion or sexuality and harassment based on genetic information, age or disability.
In short: yes, discrimination of all kinds may contribute to a hostile work environment and is thus considered illegal. Workers who experience such harassment or discrimination may wish to contact legal help to see what steps they can take to gain compensation for the negativity and difficulties they faced in such an environment.