Signs You’re Working in a Hostile Work Environment
Every person deserves to feel respected and secure while they are performing their jobs. Unfortunately, not all work environments are safe or welcoming. A hostile work environment can significantly impact your professional success, mental wellbeing, and overall health. Identifying a toxic work environment can be difficult, but there are telltale signs of hostility.
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
There are certain elements that may make a workplace unpleasant. A rude or overbearing boss, unpleasant coworkers, low pay, and minimal benefits often contribute to an undesirable work environment. However, a hostile work environment involves discrimination.
A hostile work environment is one where supervisors or coworkers create a discriminatory culture. As a result, a reasonable person would find the environment so abusive and intimidating that he or she could not complete his or her job. The discrimination is likely pervasive and long-lasting. Additionally, the employer may know about the issue and fail to respond to it or ignore requests for investigation.
Federal law prohibits most employers from discriminating against employees based on the following categories.
- Age (if over 40)
- Sexual orientation
- Pregnancy status
- Gender identity
- National origin
- Genetic information
Common Examples of a Hostile Work Environment
It can be difficult to know whether your work environment is hostile. It is common for discriminatory workplaces to make employees feel like they are overly sensitive or disingenuous when reporting this behavior. In these situations, it is important to understand what a hostile environment looks like, and what to do when you experience discrimination.
A legally hostile work environment may look like a coworker repeatedly telling offensive jokes about a protected class of people. A boss who inappropriately touches female employees also contributes to a hostile environment.
Other examples of a hostile work environment include the following.
- Displaying racist or sexually graphic pictures at work
- Making inappropriate and offensive gestures in the workplace
- Repeatedly using slurs and other types of offensive language at work
- Sabotaging an employee’s projects, career, or advancement based on a protected characteristic or activity, such as filing a whistleblower report
- Making inappropriate comments about employees’ or coworkers’ physical qualities
- Using sexually suggestive language and graphically discussing sexual acts in the workplace
If you have experienced discrimination at a New York workplace and these acts interfere with your ability to work, you may be eligible for legal action. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could file a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the New York State Human Rights Commission. You could also escalate your case to an employment lawsuit in New York civil court.
Speak to a New York Employment Lawyer
If you experienced any type of discrimination in the workplace, you deserve justice. Employers who cultivate a hostile work environment may be held liable for their actions through a state or federal claim, or a civil lawsuit. In these situations, you need a Syracuse employment lawyer on your side.
An employment attorney understands the intricacies of antidiscrimination law and will be able to identify whether your work environment is hostile. Using this information, your attorney can help you craft a compelling case in your favor and hold your employer accountable for its actions. Contact a New York employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.