Unappreciative managers, rude co-workers, micromanaging bosses, and lack of privileges can make any employee feel uncomfortable. Moreover, there can be many situations that could make the workplace unpleasant for the employees.
A report published in CNBC showed that one in every five American workers find the workplace threatening or hostile at some point in their lives.
No one wants to work in a hostile and uncomfortable work environment. Unfortunately, many employees don’t realize their work environment is toxic until it’s too late. Working in such environments isn’t just stressful; it also leads to decreased productivity.
This article will educate you about what a hostile work environment looks like and the necessary measures you can take to protect your rights as an employee.
What Do We Mean by a Hostile Work Environment? Explained with Examples
A hostile work environment is one that any reasonable person would consider abusive and intimidating because of harassment in the workplace. There are many contributors to a hostile work environment harassment, such as unwelcome conduct and harassing employees based on their protected classes.
While in the initial stages, it’s just “harassment.” However, it qualifies as a hostile work environment when you feel the toxicity at the workplace and feel unsafe to be at the office.
Here are some examples of a hostile work environment that will help you understand it better.
Racist Slurs or Other Insensitive Terms
If your managers refer to you or any of your co-workers by a racially derogatory slur, even if played off as a joke, they are creating hostile work environments in the workplace.
Offensive jokes about someone’s protected characteristics, such as race, age, gender identity, and more, could be discrimination. It truly is a hostile work environment if the comments or jokes are persistent and repeated.
Unwanted Sexual or Offensive Conduct
Many employees experience hostility in their work environment in the form of sexual conduct. If your manager or boss tells you sexually explicit jokes or sends pictures of naked people, it can be frightening and create a hostile work environment.
This type of harassment, when it continues for a certain period of time, can even take a toll on the employee’s mental health.
Another common example of a hostile work environment is aggressive behavior or your boss or co-workers. Although showing aggression is not unlawful because there can be certain situations when employers do show their anger toward the employees.
However, if it’s happening every other day, and you feel it’s disturbing your work life, it can create a hostile work environment.
Many employees experience hostility in the work environment because of their age. The New York law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees based on age, especially if they are above 40.
A common example of a hostile work environment is when your manager consistently ignores you and pressurizes you to retire or put your papers.
A hostile environment in the workplace isn’t just limited to these examples; there are many other things employees have to go through.
Do you suspect a hostile work environment? It’s important to take action before the hostile behavior affects your personal and professional life. Dial 866-351-0116 and speak to the best hostile work environment lawyers at Levine & Blit.
We’ll help you determine if the workplace environment qualifies as hostile while helping you file a complaint against the employer.
How to Tell If You are Working in a Hostile Work Environment: 6 Signs
If you are wondering whether the aggressive behavior of your boss is technically unlawful or just him being mean, here are some red flags that you are dealing with more than just bullying.
Sign 1: You Feel the Toxicity at the Workplace
To be honest, toxicity at the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a hostile work environment. Your workplace environment will qualify as toxic if you are witnessing or experiencing gossip, bullying, insults, exclusions, etc.
The toxic behavior of your boss or manager can quickly slide into the outwardly hostile workplace environment if you notice any of these signs, so watch for hostility.
Sign 2: The Hostile Work Environment Happens Consistently
According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workplace harassment qualifies as a hostile work environment and is illegal if it is pervasive and consistent. EEOC further adds that petty slights, isolated incidents, and annoyances are not contributors to a hostile work environment (unless they are sufficiently severe).
In a legal sense, if your supervisor makes a derogatory or discriminatory remark towards you or a co-worker, this may not be considered workplace hostility, though it qualifies as harassment.
However, if this happens every day, such as your manager addressing you using racial slurs or other remarks with the intention to shame and frighten you, it indicates that you are working in a hostile work environment.
Sign 3: The Hostile Behavior is Discriminatory
If the bad behavior you are witnessing or experiencing is discriminatory based on color, race, sex, and religion, it indicates a hostile work environment.
If you hear your boss speaking poorly about a colleague because she’s pregnant or because of the employee’s age, you may be in a workplace with a hostile environment.
Sign 4: The Hostile Behavior Has Become Aggressive
The bad behavior doesn’t necessarily have to be physically aggressive in order to qualify as a hostile work environment. However, if you are experiencing physical aggression from your boss or superiors, you should certainly report it.
Aggression can also be subtle, such as verbal attacks, cruelty, and negative comments toward an employee.
While some movies and TV series have made people believe that bad behavior at the workplace is standard, it isn’t. If you think that the behavior of your manager or boss is aggressive such as if they physically or verbally attack you, it could be a sign of a hostile work environment.
Sign 5: The Behavior is Impacting Your Professional Life
Usually, employees ignore a few derogatory comments from their seniors, as most people think that bullying in the workplace is common. However, if the bad behavior starts interfering with work and affects an employee’s work performance it probably qualifies as a hostile work environment.
For example, if an employee is bullied by their supervisor or a co-worker, they are unable to focus on work and fear going to the office.
Similarly, if you feel that you aren’t able to move up the ladder in your career because of your boss’s behavior, you are working in a hostile environment.
Sign 6: You Feel Trapped
Finally, the last sign that indicates that you are in a hostile work environment is feeling trapped. A major red flag is when your boss or supervisor makes you feel you cannot get out of the situation they’ve created, such as you cannot resign because your skills are obsolete.
Another indication of hostility at the workplace is when you or your co-workers feel afraid, miserable, and threatened by the employer. People who promote this culture of disparaging others’ personalities and ideas are fostering a hostile environment, so keep an eye on them, as it’ll be useful when filing a complaint.
If you are experiencing any or all these signs, the chances of working in a hostile work environment are high. Even if you feel you can’t get out of the situation, there’s a way out, and you can take help from a professional hostile work environment lawyer NY.
Levine & Blit is a team of dedicated attorneys that’ve been handling labor and employment-related cases for years. Whether you want to recover fair compensation, get your job back, or file a complaint against the boss, we can help you with everything in a legal way.
Call us at 866-351-0116 for a free case evaluation.
Does a Hostile Work Environment Exist when You Are Working Remotely?
A short answer would be “yes”! Employees working remotely may no longer engage in face-to-face interactions but might also experience mistreatment through digital means such as text, chat, or video.
While this can happen in many ways, the most common type of harassment most employees experience is in the form of workplace discrimination based on race, age, color, and sex.
For example, if an employee is excluded from the virtual team meetings and isn’t notified about the meeting schedules, this could create a hostile work environment.
How Do You Pick Up On This?
The biggest challenge in the case of a hostile work environment when you are working remotely is proving your suffering. However, you can still file a case against your boss or people you think have mistreated you and contributed to fostering hostility at the workplace.
A hostile work environment lawyer in NY can help you gather evidence while filing a complaint with the right department.
What to Do If You Are Working in a Hostile Work Environment? How to Prove It?
Cutting all the ties with the company isn’t an option for many employees. But that doesn’t mean the employees should keep working in a hostile environment.
The New York State and Federal law protects employees from toxic work environments. Before filing a complaint and taking things to the next stage, you must ensure that the workplace environment is hostile.
Labor and employment law attorneys suggest the following steps to determine and prove a hostile work environment.
Do Your Due Diligence
There’s a thin line between normal aggression and aggression with an intention. So, the first step should be ensuring that hostility exists at your workplace and is affecting your career.
Talk to the HR
Once you are sure there exists a hostile work environment, you can talk to the HR or other authorities that handle such situations. Try to present tangible proof, such as an eyewitness, for example, a co-worker who saw your boss harassing you.
It’s essential for the employees to bring such issues to the management before filing a complaint. When your employer knows you complained about a hostile work environment and still don’t take necessary measures, it shows that they promote such a culture.
Proving a hostile work environment can be challenging, especially in an at-will state like New York. Therefore, you should document everything that has happened to you. For example, if your boss has sent you some sexual photos over chat or an email, you can take screenshots of the same.
According to labor law attorneys, you should document your conversation with HR, as it may help strengthen the case. Make sure the HR knows you are recording the conversation in order to make the evidence legal.
Contact Labor Law Attorneys
If nothing helps, you can appoint a lawyer and file a case against the employer. Most employees even experience retaliation when they complain about their bosses to HR. The attorney will help you file a complaint for retaliation and harassment.
At Levine & Blit, we are highly experienced attorneys in the area of harassment and employment laws. Our lawyers have handled a large variety of employment cases throughout the state of New York, helping our clients recover decent compensations for the damages.
Contact us for a free consultation and schedule an appointment with professional attorneys that care for you.
Laws Regarding a Hostile Work Environment in New York
There are several state and federal laws that prohibit employers from practicing harassment and creating a hostile work environment for employees. Also, these laws protect the employees while giving them the authority to practice their legal rights. Some of these laws include:
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The federal law prohibits discrimination against employees aged 40 years or older. It is illegal for employers to refuse or deny employment opportunities to someone because of their age.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
According to this act, “employers cannot refuse or fail to hire, promote, or otherwise discharge an employee based on their protected attributes such as color, sex, gender, national origin, and more.”
Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA
This federal and state law disallows employers from discriminating against employees based on their disabilities. No employer in New York can refuse to hire or deny employment opportunities to someone because they or someone they know have a disability.
This act also protects employees from retaliation if they file a hostile work environment claim against the employer for promoting a hostile work environment.
New York Exec Law § 296
According to this law, “employers and licensing agencies cannot discriminate or harass an employee because of their creed, race, color, sexual orientation, military status, identity or expression.
The York Human Rights Law also prohibits employers from defaming employees or discharging them unlawfully because of these protected characteristics.
Let Levine & Blit Help You Deal with the Hostile Work Environment!
If you are experiencing harassment at the workplace, you might feel scared and alone. However, with the help of our labor law attorneys, you can understand your rights and options.
Agencies like EEOC and DOL let you file a hostile work environment lawsuit against the employer if you’ve experienced harassment or were denied from using the employment benefits.
As a preferred New York City law firm, Levine & Blit helps you evaluate the strength of your case while taking care of all the formalities required to file complaints. We even deal with your employer’s legal team, so you don’t have to suffer more.
Legal help is just a call away, so dial 866-351-0116 and let our experienced attorneys help you take the right action.