Movies and TV shows often make fun of workplaces in which a boss or employees behave incompetently or inappropriately. While such situations make for hilarious entertainment, if you are working in such an environment, it might be anything but funny.
If you work with people who are difficult to get along with, have bad personal hygiene or have annoying habits, you may hate your job. You may even consider your workplace hostile. However, can you take legal action? There are certain factors that must exist for a workplace to legally be a hostile environment.
What makes a workplace hostile?
You can easily list the reasons why your job is unsatisfying. The work is demanding, and the pay is low. You may have few opportunities for advancement, or perhaps management has overlooked you for a promotion. If the atmosphere is negative and your co-workers unfriendly, you may have every reason to look for another job. However, you may not have cause to seek justice in a civil court. Under federal and Oregon laws, a hostile work environment must include the following factors:
- Discriminatory behavior aimed at your sex, age, race, religion, disability or other protected class
- Actions that are not a one-time event but are persistent
- Behavior that continues even after you have asked the offender to stop
- Comments or actions that are severe enough to interfere with your ability to do your work
- Discriminatory actions that prevent you from advancing in your career
- Harassment or other actions directed at you that make you feel unsafe
Often, someone who is making you uncomfortable with comments or jokes does not realize these things offend you unless you say so plainly. When this does not bring about positive change, you may have to go to your boss. If you have brought these actions to the attention of your employer, but he or she took no action to stop the harassment, you may have cause to take legal action against your employer for creating or promoting hostility in the workplace.
If you are dealing with one or more people at work who are creating a hostile environment, you should not take the situation lightly. These behaviors may escalate, especially if your employer encourages or turns a blind eye to the situation. Your safety and well-being are important, and you deserve a work environment that allows you to earn a living in peace.