A hostile work environment is produced by a manager or coworker whose actions, words, or conduct make it hard to accomplish your job. This signifies that the conduct changed the terms, circumstances, and/or reasonable expectations of workers for a comfortable work environment. Examples of creating a hostile work environment include: insulting employees, making them do menial tasks, and not providing them with enough resources.
Hostile work environments can be either physical or verbal, but most often involve the latter. Physical harassment includes things such as being touched inappropriately or physically threatened, while verbal harassment includes being insulted, called names, told to go back where they came from, and more. Most commonly, hostile work environments are created through comments, slurs, and inappropriate behaviors directed toward individuals because of their gender, race, religion, age, or disability.
When does working in a hostile environment become illegal? When it affects an individual's ability to do his or her job - this means that if you cannot do your job properly due to the hostile environment, then you have been discriminated against.
There are two types of discrimination based on a hostile work environment: intentional employment discrimination and negligent employment discrimination. With intentional employment discrimination, the employer intends to create a hostile work environment; with negligent employment discrimination, the employer fails to take adequate measures to prevent a hostile work environment from forming, which results in an employee being subjected to a hostile work environment.
In the legal sense, a hostile work environment is one that is unfriendly because of a person's gender, color, or handicap. It is unusual for a single occurrence to be declared a hostile work environment under the law, however a single incidence of forceful physical assault can qualify. Gender discrimination includes sexual harassment and unequal pay. Unfair treatment because of race includes any unfair prejudice against people based on their race or ethnic origin. Unfair treatment because of religion includes any disadvantageous employment action taken against an employee because they are religious about their beliefs.
A hostile work environment exists when there is discriminatory behavior so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment. Hostile work environments can exist where there is discrimination in terms of salary, benefits, or job responsibilities. For example, if a male manager tells sexually suggestive jokes in the workplace and makes sexual advances toward female employees, this could create a hostile work environment even if the individuals who complain do not suffer any economic loss.
The existence of a hostile work environment is determined by looking at all the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident. These may include the frequency of the incidents, their severity, whether they are physically threatening, and whether they interfere with an employee's performance duties. Employees are expected to deal with rude or offensive conduct from supervisors and coworkers. However, if the conduct becomes sufficiently severe or pervasive then it can be considered a hostile work environment.
Title IX defines a hostile environment as the following: an intimidating or offensive atmosphere that leads a person to feel scared. A situation that prevents or limits a person's capacity to participate in or benefit from a program, activity, or employment. Title IX requires schools to take action against sexual harassment and provide a safe learning environment for students.
Hostile environments can be created by physical conditions, such as severe overcrowding or poor heating/cooling systems. They can also be created by social conditions, such as when student-to-staff ratios are very high or when there are large class sizes. Sexual harassment can occur in any form - including but not limited to verbal comments, slurs, derogatory jokes, and physical harassment - and can come from students or staff members. When such conduct is frequent or severe enough, it can create a hostile environment for other students.
Schools have a responsibility under Title IX to protect students from a sexually harassing environment. If a school finds itself facing such allegations, it must conduct an investigation into the claims and take appropriate action based on its findings. Schools may choose to suspend or expel students found to have violated campus rules. In cases where students cannot be reached via traditional means (such as through their parents), schools may turn to alternative measures such as civil proceedings or administrative hearings.