Hostile Environment Employment Discrimination

Many of us have encountered rudeness or abrasiveness from others while at work, but does this mean that we are the victims of a hostile work environment that is fueled by discrimination? In most cases, things like impoliteness and lack of people skills does not constitute a hostile work environment that you should take legal action for. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if someone is hostile towards you because of a protected characteristic that you have. If you are being targeted for one of these reasons below, then the hostility may be actionable:

  • Religion
  • Race or color
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic information
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age

To be categorized as a hostile work environment, there needs to be more than just rudeness. A behavior must be severe and pervasive that interrupts your ability to perform your job. And, that person’s conduct must have a discriminatory nature to it that involves your race, gender, etc. Keep in mind that sexual harassment can be included in this. You may be the victim of discrimination if another person with a rational and reasonable mind state would deem the behavior offensive as well. The misconduct may be ongoing, and not isolated to one incident.

As your lawyer can guide you through, such as an employment discrimination lawyer Chicago, IL residents trust at Dave Albo, one thing you may have to do if you are in a hostile work environment is to give your employer the chance to remedy the situation. You will have to speak up about what is happening to you, and file a complaint with human resources or a trusted supervisor. If there is a company handbook, follow the procedures for submitting an official complaint. If your complaint is then not adequately addressed, then it may be time to get an employment lawyer to intervene and enforce your rights. 

A challenging work space can be difficult for anyone. What we want the most is a job that we can enjoy to some degree where we don’t have to worry about being harassed or mistreated. By law, an employer does not have to create a pleasant work environment. Many employers use an “at will” system, which means that they can take any action with or without giving good reason. The law only applies when an employer’s or coworker’s actions are driven by discrimination for a protected characteristic.

Many people wonder if what they are experiencing at work is unlawful, and in some cases it can be, but it may also just be an unhealthy workspace that doesn’t have a discriminatory element to it. It will then be up to the employee to decide for themselves whether they want to continue that employment or move onto another company that promotes a healthy work culture with more pleasant people.