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hostile work environmentOne of the biggest potential problems for employees is a hostile work environment. There are several factors that contribute to a hostile workplace, including poor management, rude coworkers, little or no benefits, and lack of recognition. These and other issues can make the environment tense. However, there are certain criteria that must be in place for a workplace to be hostile under the law.

A hostile work environment is one that is created by a boss or coworker when his or her actions, behavior, or communication make it impossible for a person to do their job. That means the offending individual’s actions, behavior, or communication is beyond the scope of reasonable to the point that the workplace is not a comfortable one for employees.

A Hostile Work Environment Is a Discriminatory One

In addition, the actions, behavior, or communication must be discriminatory. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes certain guidelines that are governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

This means that if a coworker is generally rude and obnoxious toward you, it doesn’t constitute a hostile work environment. However, if someone you work with tells jokes that are sexual in nature or sends pictures of nudity around the office, it is considered sexual harassment, which does constitute a hostile work environment.

If your boss insults you about your age, race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, your workplace can be considered a hostile one. This is the case even if the boss makes casual comments or says such things meant to be jokes. Furthermore, if you have requested that the person stop making such comments or behaving in a certain way that makes you and others feel uncomfortable and he or she continues, it is a hostile work environment.

What Are the Legal Requirements for a Hostile Work Environment?

The legal requirements for a hostile workplace include the following:

  • A person’s actions, communication, or behavior must be discriminatory toward a protected classification, such as race, age, disability, or sexual orientation.
  • The actions, communication, or behavior is persistent over time and not limited to a single comment that irked one person. Reporting this to your human resources department is important so that they can intervene.
  • The issue is pervasive if it’s done around an employee and continues over time but not investigated or addressed so that it can stop.
  • The actions, communication, or behavior must be severe to the point that it disrupts someone’s work or career progress.
  • The employer was aware that the actions, communication, or behavior caused a hostile work environment, but did not intervene.

How to Deal with a Hostile Work Environment

A person must first ask the individual creating the hostility to stop his or her behavior or communication. If that does not yield positive results, the next step is going to human resources. It’s a good idea to document everything along the way. If you feel as if the problem cannot be solved internally, you may need to seek legal assistance. The employment law attorneys at Michigan Legal Center can help you find a resolution to your case. The specific aspects of employment law are complex and require extensive legal knowledge. We've recovered millions for our clients in settlements and verdicts across a variety of practices in our 20 years of experience praticing law in Michigan and are prepared to take on your case. Trust us to manage your situation with careful hands. Contact is today at 1-(800)-961-8477 for a free case evaluation.

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