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Are You Experiencing A Hostile Work Environment?


Do you always fear going to work because your boss belittles and harasses you in the presence of your colleagues? You’re not alone. According to a CNBC report published in 2017, one in five US employees stated that they’re experiencing a hostile work environment.

A hostile environment is whereby offensive behavior and unwelcome comments at work affect your ability to perform your duties. This inappropriate behavior could come from a coworker, client, or even the manager.

Read on to learn more about a hostile work environment and what to do if you find yourself in such a situation.

What Constitutes A Hostile Work Environment?

Most employees believe that to be:

  • An unpleasant work environment,
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Lack of privileges and recognition

These element can constitute a hostile work environment. And honestly, many of these issues contribute to an unfriendly and unsupportive environment for workers.

Besides, these actions must be discriminative. You must prove that your employer or coworkers discriminate against you based on gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation. What’s more, the behavior must be pervasive enough to be considered abusive.

Signs of A Hostile Work Environment

Are you wondering whether or not the behavior at your workplace fits the description of a hostile environment? Consider the following signs:

1. Unhealthy Levels Of Competition

Besides boosting morale, encouraging fun and healthy competition between departments or individuals can immensely increase productivity. But if you notice the management fostering divisive competition levels that drive others to engage in offensive conduct such as bullying, you’re experiencing a hostile work environment.

2. Verbal Or Non-Verbal Aggression

Of course, anger is a normal human emotion. But, both employers and employees need to handle their emotional reactions at work appropriately. If your coworker or boss is displaying serious and disturbing aggression, either verbally or non-verbally, you might be working in a hostile environment.

3. Public Shaming

Sometimes, employees make mistakes, and employers use professional discipline to hold them accountable for their responsibilities. However, you shouldn’t be publicly embarrassed as a form of coercing you into performing your job in a specific manner.

4. Scapegoating

This is the practice of blaming an employee for everything that goes wrong at work, even if the mistake wasn’t their responsibility and they had nothing to do with it. That isn’t professional.

You shouldn’t find yourself in a situation where your boss subjects you to undue and biased scrutiny and unfair accusations when things go wrong. That’s a hostile work environment.

5. Blatant And Severe Favoritism

Apart from blaming and scapegoating someone for every mistake, blatant and severe favoritism can also create a hostile work environment. Favoring one person or even just a group of employees and giving them perks fosters hostility. This is because the workers who aren’t selected will start to resent the favored group, hindering morale and teamwork in the workplace.

6. Your Employee Using Unfair Tactics To Prevent You From Growing Within The Company

Generally, employers love to see their employees grow and moving up the ranks within a company. But sometimes, you’ll find a supervisor who’d rather stifle their workers’ dedication to secure higher-paying posts for themselves. Your boss shouldn’t actively hinder you from getting promoted through unfair disciplinary actions or adverse performance reviews.

7. Failure To Maintain A Safe Work Environment

Every employee must ensure that employees have a safe work environment. This includes psychological, physical, and emotional safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strives to ensure employees have safe and healthful work conditions. They do this by setting and enforcing standards.

How To Deal With A Hostile Work Environment

There are various ways that you can get yourself out of a hostile work environment. Remember, you have rights, and the law protects you, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.

1. Put The Employee/Employer On Notice

The first step you need to take is to ask the offending person to stop their communication or behavior. You want to notify them that their action is discriminatory, offensive, inappropriate and that you can’t take it anymore.

In most cases, the person will stop the behavior. This is because they may not have known the degree to which their actions were offensive to you. If you find it challenging to open up to your fellow employees and tell them how you feel, you can solicit help from Human Resources or the manager.

Seek Legal Assistance

When you go through proper channels and report workplace harassment and discrimination to the management board, they should address the issue swiftly. But if they fail to respond appropriately, don’t despair.

Legal action might be the best alternative. All you need to do is look for an “employment lawyer near me,” and you’ll be few steps closer to solving your problem. At HKM, we can ethically help you pursue justice. Contact us today, and we’ll start working on your case with utmost respect and professionalism.