What is a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2021 | Harassment At Work

A work environment is crucial to a worker’s ability to accomplish their job in a time-efficient way that is up to workplace standards. A peaceful, calm and nurturing work environment full of encouragement will often result in happy workers who produce higher quality work.

On the other hand, hostile work environments not only cause personal harm to workers, but it can even create the grounds needed for a worker’s compensation claim.

Harassment creating negative environments

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission discusses harassment at the workplace. Harassment is just one of many potential factors that can contribute to and create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment will create negative emotions within employees, such as fear or anxiety. It actively gets in the way of employees doing their duties, as their mental energy might go entirely to the problems creating the hostile work environment.

Contributing factors to hostile environments

Other factors contributing to this environment can include sexual harassment, libel and slander and discrimination. Coworkers and supervisors alike can contribute to a hostile work environment; in some cases, the issues might come from both parties. Examples can include supervisors demanding sexual favors in exchange for promotions or benefits (an example of sexual harassment), or coworkers engaging in slander to the point of destroying a worker’s reputation among all colleagues.

To constitute a hostile work environment, a “reasonable person” must find these discriminatory or harassing actions and behaviors so intimidating or abusive that it impacts their ability to work. This can potentially lead to an employee quitting or even getting fired, and the employee can then take legal action against the company for its allowance or fostering of a hostile work environment.