Hostile Work Environment Defined

Hostile Work Environment Defined

No employee should be exposed to a work environment where sexual harassment takes place. Unfortunately, it can happen, and employees have the right to do something about the injustice.

There are two types of sexual harassment an employee could face — quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment is defined as unwelcome or offensive actions that make an employee or employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or scared in the workplace. These behaviors or actions can be verbal or nonverbal. Most significantly, the actions or behaviors make the work environment unbearable for the employee so much so that it hinders the employee’s ability to perform the functions of their job.

Examples of a Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment could look like the following:

  • An employee using sexually suggestive language in front of other employees;
  • An employee’s office having sexually inappropriate or racist pictures displayed;
  • An employee making inappropriate gestures to or at another employee;
  • An employee being subjected to unwanted touching by another employee; and,
  • An employee’s actions or behaviors purposefully trying to sabotage another employee’s work or career.

What Should I Do If I’m In a Hostile Work Environment?

If you are in a hostile work environment, it’s important to know that there are laws to protect you. It’s also critical to properly report the behavior as part of the company’s internal complaint procedures. This could be submitted to a human resources department or to a certain individual and should be outlined in the employee handbook. If you are in fear of retaliation after making a complaint, know that there are federal laws that shield you. When you make the report, make sure that there is physical documentation of the report so that you can have one copy and give the other to the appropriate human resources representative. This protects you if anyone would ever question the validity of your report.

Another step you should take is contacting Guardian Litigation Group, LLP. Our employment attorneys have helped clients across the country with their employment litigation needs including sexual harassment cases. Don’t feel like you need to stay in a hostile work environment — contact our team right away to see how we can help. (949) 569-9006.