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How to identify a hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2023 | Employment law |

Workplace harassment comes in many forms. For some people, harassment may involve unwanted flirting or touching. For others, workplace harassment may involve a hostile work environment.

Many people struggle to succinctly define a hostile work environment and, therefore, have a hard time asserting their rights when they experience this kind of misconduct in the workplace.

Hostile work environments feel unsafe

A hostile work environment can develop due to a variety of different characteristics. It could be someone’s race, age or sex that leads to their co-workers singling them out and mistreating them. Generally speaking, a hostile workplace often looks a lot like workplace bullying but it is generally rooted in someone’s legally-protected immutable characteristics. It may have an impact on someone’s ability to do their job.

Other workers engage in unwanted conduct that makes someone feel unsafe or isolated at work. They may not feel comfortable asking for support on the job or may recognize that their coworkers have intentionally isolated them.

In some cases, numerous workers make mean jokes at someone’s expense. Other times, they may refuse to work with or properly support one individual, making it harder for them to do their job safely. If the conduct of co-workers has made someone feel as though going to work is unsafe or incredibly stressful, the situation may involve a hostile work environment.

Typically, those enduring a hostile workplace can ask their employers to intervene. If a company does not address the issue, then the worker may have grounds for a harassment or discrimination lawsuit. Recognizing a hostile work environment is the first step toward fighting back against misconduct that affects someone’s career and well-being.