Hostile work environment is a term that you may have heard used on many different occasions, but in most instances, the workplaces people are describing do not actually meet the legal definition of hostile. If you do find yourself in a hostile workplace, help is available. Consult with a labor attorney in San Jose, CA to find out if your workplace meets the criteria for being considered a hostile work environment and what you can do to fight for your rights.
Characteristics of a Hostile Work Environment
A work environment in which you have a bad boss, lack of access to amenities, and coworkers who don’t help shoulder the burden of the work may be unpleasant, but it doesn’t legally qualify for a hostile work environment. To be considered a hostile work environment, your workplace must include a boss or coworker that interferes with your ability to do your job through discriminatory communication or behavior.
In other words, rude behavior does not make a work environment hostile, but sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination do. Although these discriminatory behaviors are themselves prohibited by law, when they are severe and occur for an extended period of time, they contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment.
Strategies for Overcoming a Hostile Work Environment
As a first step, it is generally recommended that employees who think that they have a hostile work environment address the issue with the offending party or with the human resources department. It can be helpful to keep a record of discriminatory behavior so you can provide specific instances. The person who is engaging in the hostile behavior should be notified in writing by human resources or a manager that his or her actions are unacceptable.
If the matter is not corrected internally, then bring your case to an employment law attorney. He or she will decide the best way for you to proceed to protect your rights. Keep in mind that whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation if you do file a complaint.