Where Creativity and Nature Meet

What Makes a Work Environment Hostile?

Employees have the right to be safe in the workplace. When you hear the word safe, the first thing that comes to your mind is protection against workplace accidents, especially if you work in hazardous environments such as construction sites. But one factor of safety is often overlooked – protection against hostile work environments.

But what makes a work environment hostile anyway? According to the website of The Melton Firm, a hostile work environment exists if an employee experiences abusive or discriminatory treatment. The most common mistreatment involves age, race, and gender.

One quirky remark about potentially sensitive issues such as sexual orientation does not necessarily mean that the work environment is hostile, because it may be an isolated incident. Typically, a work environment is only hostile when it passes the following criteria:

  • The level of the abusive or discriminatory treatment is severe
  • The abuse or discrimination is persistent and long-lasting
  • The abuse or discrimination is already directly affecting the victim’s work
  • There is enough reason to believe that the employer is aware of the problem but fails to act on it

For example, if an employee is consistently mimicking his disabled co-worker in a manner that is meant to provoke him, he may be creating a hostile work environment. This may have negative effects on his co-worker, like having low self-esteem and making excuses of not going to work to avoid being bullied.

In fact, the co-worker is not just the only person affected. There are instances where the entire workforce will feel the hostility of the workplace, and there is a possibility that this will result into comfort and productivity issues.

Even though co-workers are the common causes of hostile work environments, it is not unheard of for employers to be the ones guilty. For example, if an employer acts in a manner that is meant to make an employee quit his job, it may be creating a hostile work environment, not just for the victim, but for everybody in the workplace who may be subject to the same act or heard of the act that has made the victim quit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *