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On the Warpath: How to Deal with Hostile Work Environments

By Dan Atkerson on September 11, 2015

Director yelling at the assistantWhat exactly is workplace hostility? What sort of behaviors make up hostile work environments? Many believe that any kind of rude act can constitute hostile action, but that isn’t always the case legally speaking. What actually constitutes a hostile work environment is any situation that is discriminatory in nature and changes the conditions of the victim’s employment and/or creates an abusive workplace environment.

This means that while it is certainly not appropriate for a supervisor or co-worker to yell or criticize your work, it is not illegal unless those actions are discriminatory. For example, a boss who holds staff meetings and yells at everyone about poor overall performance is not acting illegally. However, if that same boss holds a staff meeting to yell at only the women or Latinos in the office, then that would constitute a hostile work environment due to discriminatory behavior.

How Can You Deal With Hostile Work Environments?

  • Ask the offender to stop acting in a hostile or discriminatory manner. Sometimes, people will back off when confronted, especially if you warn them of possible legal action. It is best to do this as part of a group, so if there are other victims who feel the same way, ask them to stand with you.
  • If the behavior continues, go to a higher authority. Ask to speak with the person above the offending manager or co-worker. Companies have an obvious interest in maintaining employees, which usually means they will be inclined to take action before employees begin quitting or filing lawsuits.
  • If talking to the offender and their supervisor does not end the hostile behavior, it may be time to contact an employment attorney. A lawyer can help you to end hostile behavior and even prevent it in the future.
Nobody should have to tolerate bullies in the workplace, especially bullies that discriminate. Let Dan A. Atkerson fight for you so that you never have to feel stressed, anxious, or scared about going into work ever again.

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