Respect in the Workplace

A complaint about a hostile work environment is a prerequisite for proving illegal discrimination in the workplace under federal law. The complainant must prove that he or she was discriminated against based on race, sex, color, religion, sexual orientation, descent, national origin, pregnancy, age, or disability. Additionally, the acts must be generalized and sufficiently serious for being considered abusive.

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What is Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

Be careful to distinguish a hostile situation from a difficult or annoying situation. In most cases, personal conflicts, small overtures, rudeness, and isolated incidents do not constitute a hostile work environment.

To meet the qualifications of a hostile work environment, the behavior must be:

  • Diffuse, severe, and persistent
  • An attempt to sabotage the victim's work
  • Something the business owner knows about and hasn't taken measures to stop
Hostile Work Environment

Hostile Work Environment

Usually, a discriminatory comment or behavior that has occurred once or twice is not sufficient to be considered a hostile work environment. If the stalker or harasser is a supervisor, the employer is responsible because the supervisor acts on behalf of the employer. If the parties are not supervisors, the victim must demonstrate that harassment had been reported and that the employer failed in taking enough measures to improve the situation.

Notify The Offending Employee

Notify The Offending Employee

The first step an employee should take if they suffer from a hostile work environment should be asking the offending and hostile employee to cease their bad communication or behavior. If the employee finds it difficult to do it alone, he or she should seek the help of a manager or human resources.

When inappropriate behavior comes from another employee, making a clear record of communication is your best internal resource. It also testifies to the fact that you asked the employee at fault to put an end to the behavior.

Remember That Revenge is Illegal

Remember That Revenge is Illegal

Especially in cases where you report the behavior of a manager or supervisor to the appropriate HR manager or employee, hostile behavior must stop. Also, the person reported may not retaliate against you in response to the reporting of inappropriate behavior.

Ask for Help

Ask for Help

An employee who suffers from a hostile work environment and tries to stop the behavior without success must speak to his manager, his employer, or his HR personnel. The first step to getting help is to ask for help. Your employer should have the opportunity to investigate a complaint and eliminate the behavior.

A hostile lawsuit will be a long-term alternative, which you will establish if the employer is unaware of the situation and has no opportunity to combat the hostile behavior and the environment. This is in your hands because, in most workplaces, aggressive behavior is observed and treated when it is evident or seen by many employees.

However, you may be surprised at the vigilance of your employer to prevent current and future accidents that can contribute to a hostile work environment. Many employers view harassment and a hostile work environment as actions that deserve to be stopped after a confirmed investigation. Allow the business owner to do the right thing.

Examples of a Hostile Work Environment

A co-worker speaks loudly, picks his teeth, and bends over your table when he talks to you, showing inappropriate or rude behavior, but that doesn't create a hostile work environment as it is legally defined. On the other hand, a colleague tells sexually explicit jokes and sends photos of naked people, making him guilty of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

The manager who verbally teases you based on your age, religion, or gender is guilty of creating a work environment with hostility. Even when the comments are not formal and said lightly with a smile, or as a joke, this doesn't make the situation any different and is considered harassment.

This is especially true if you ask the person to stop and the behavior continues. By the way, it's always the first step in tackling inappropriate work behavior: ask the boss or co-worker who acts inappropriately to stop.

Sharing sexual images (not limited to pornographic images), discussing sexual practices, using sexually suggestive language, making comments, jokes, or sexual gestures, or asking sexual questions are all forms of hostile harassment. This behavior may target the victim, or it may simply occur in the presence of the victim.

It is impossible to list all the possible behaviors that could justify claiming a hostile work environment, at least if it is widespread enough. The law is still evolving in this area, which creates some uncertainty in terms of legal protections.

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