Many employees, at one time or another, have worked for an employer or an organization that is not the right fit. It might be because the employee has a difficult boss, annoying coworkers, doesn’t receive recognition for the work he or she performs or there is no opportunity for advancement.
While these types of workplaces can make an employee miserable, an employee must demonstrate certain criteria for the workplace to be recognized as a hostile work environment.
Hostile work environment
This work environment is one that is intimidating, hostile or offensive to a reasonable person. Offensive conduct may include slurs, name calling, physical threats or assaults, intimidation, mockery and ridicule. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission explains that this type of harassment is against the law.
The employer’s behavior must be pervasive and severe. Generally, it is not an isolated incident. It may occur where the behavior interferes with an employee’s career growth or when the employee is discriminated against based on age, gender, religion, race or other protected classes.
The employee must notify the employer and give him or her a reasonable opportunity to address the behavior. The employer may not retaliate against an employee who makes a hostile work environment claim, participates in an investigation, lawsuit or other proceeding to address the harassment.
Employees should feel comfortable in their workplace and not subjected to hostile behavior, comments or actions by their employer. An experienced attorney can help employees address the hostile work environment and provide guidance about their rights.