What is a hostile work environment?

Have you ever woken up and not wanted to go to work? Most people have. If it is because you are bored of your job, or do not like what you do, then the only option may be to resign and look for work that excites and interests you. Yet, if it is because you feel uncomfortable at work, you may be able to do something about it.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects most workers from harassment and discrimination. It considers harassment or discrimination breaks the law when:

  • You have to put up with it to keep your job
  • It creates an environment that is hostile, intimidating or abusive

People can view things differently, so a court must consider whether a “reasonable person” would consider the environment hostile, abusive, or intimidating due to any harassment or discrimination.

How can you tell if you face a hostile environment at work?

 A nasty boss or coworker does not make for a hostile work environment under Title VII. There needs to be an element of discrimination. So, your boss saying he hates working with you does not count. Your boss saying he hates working with you because of your race, color, nationality, gender or disability, should count. One outburst is not enough either. The aggressor needs to continue the actions that make you feel uncomfortable over time.

If you are unsure whether your work environment is hostile, seek legal advice. A court is less interested in your opinion or someone else’s, as the precise wording of employment laws and the specific details of your case. They want to know whether your employer has broken the law. If they have, then you can hold them to account.