A hostile work environment can create several challenges and prevent workers from doing their jobs. This represents a serious problem for employers since it often impacts things like productivity, worker engagement and job satisfaction.
Understanding what a hostile work environment is can help employees know their rights and employers make changes to avoid expensive lawsuits and other issues.
A hostile work environment occurs when the actions or words of a coworker, manager or supervisor impact another person’s ability to do their job. It’s important to note that any worker can cause a hostile work environment.
Signs of a hostile work environment
For a workplace to be considered to have a truly hostile environment, certain things must be present. Some of these criteria include:
- Ongoing or long-lasting harassment.
- Unwelcome harassment based on genetics, race, disability, sex, age, pregnancy, national origin or religion.
- Conduct that is so severe the workplace has become abusive, offensive or intimidating.
Your options to deal with a hostile work environment
You have a few options if you believe you are working in a hostile work environment. These include:
- Put an employee on notice. Request that the offending behavior be ceased.
- Request assistance. If the employee (or another party) continues the hostile behavior, turn to HR, your employer or your manager.
You should allow your employer to do what is right before taking additional steps.
In some situations, a hostile work environment means you have legal recourse to the situation. Learning what options you have will help you take the right steps to eliminate the issue and ensure other employees don’t find themselves in the same situation.