A lot of issues that can happen in a workplace which might, in turn, make the environment hostile for employees or an employee. Before you think about filing a hostile work environment claim, you should know that the types of discriminations or harassments used to qualify a hostile work environment must be based on protected characteristics of age, gender, sex, disability, race, religion or national origin.
According to the general legal definition of a hostile work environment, such an environment must be one that an employee fears going to work.
Federal codes and case laws describe such an environment as being oppressive, intimidating or offensive. Most of the times, employers are blamed for creating hostile environments, though fellow employees and sometimes customers may also help in making the work environment hostile. Here are some of the examples of actions or behaviors that may contribute to the environment being hostile:
Discussing Sexual Activities Or Making Sexual Advances
Sexual harassment is a serious issue when it comes to harassment and discrimination at the office. It can take various forms and shapes, depending on who is committing it and who the targeted is.
Discussing sexual activities or making sexual advances to non-willing parties is grossly inappropriate and sufficient to create an unfavorable atmosphere for productivity at work. This is one of the offenses that the EEOC is very strict against and if found culpable, dire consequences will always ensue.
Using Demeaning Terms Or Epithets
The boss may be drunk with power and start to trash some employees through their speech. Even if the words chosen do not point to direct discrimination against the protected characteristics, the use of demeaning terms or epithets, especially by a superior, is enough to create a hostile work environment.
Such is not just a show of insubordination, but also a real morale killer and will without a doubt make it difficult for the targeted employee to perform at their best. The continued use of such terms may have severe consequences on the employee, such that they may see quitting as the only option.
Engaging In Inappropriate Touching
The touching may not be laced with any sexual gestures, but other than what is prescribed in the accepted code of conduct for greetings and expression in an office set up, any other type of touching will be construed as inappropriate and may contribute towards the creation of a hostile work environment.
Besides, such inappropriate touching may be translated differently by the victim and irrespective of the exact nature of touching, they may as well go ahead and file for sexual harassment charges.
Interfering With Another Employee’s Work
Some employees also have the capability of making life a living hell for fellow employees. This is especially true if the setup of the job requires people to work in a team and one or more team members decide to sabotage the efforts of others through various means.
A number of justifications can be advanced why some employees might do this, but when it happens, the affected party will no longer feel free to carry out their duties as employees of that organization.
The other notable examples of hostile work environments include using indecent gestures with a motive of hurting other, telling of inappropriate jokes touching sensitive topics like gender and race and outright discrimination due to inability.