A hostile work environment can make work a truly miserable experience. It can be responsible for a loss of professional opportunities, strain on mental health and a generally miserable period in someone’s life. You should be aware of the various signs of a hostile work environment and your rights as an employee. If you live in California, you may be entitled to certain legal protections and compensation if you are forced to endure a hostile work environment.
Defining a hostile work environment
As defined by the law and a series of court decisions, a hostile work environment is one in which harassment and discrimination occur. Harassment is defined as “unwelcome conduct” as a result of a person’s condition such as race, gender or older age. An employer that allows this kind of conduct is violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Harassment or discrimination may involve a variety of conduct, like making jokes and comments or assigning responsibilities on the basis of one of the above characteristics. Indeed, the definition is extremely broad by design as harassment and discrimination can occur in a variety of different ways.
What are your options if you experience a hostile work environment?
The legal system is replete with examples of people who experienced discrimination and harassment at work being compensated financially as a result of their experiences. If a hostile work environment has made it hard for you to show up and be productive at work, bringing a lawsuit against your employer is one of your potential legal options.
Remember, a hostile work environment is not normal or acceptable. If it is something you have experienced, you may want to take action to protect your legal rights.