What is a hostile work environment?

When a workspace fosters growth, collaboration, and mutual respect, it can benefit everyone involved. However, hostile workplace environments are conducive to division and frustration.

Sexual harassment law firms have litigated numerous cases where employees face unbearable conditions at the hands of their employers. 

Workplace harassment professionals suggest contacting a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney when you’ve had to deal with an unpleasant and hostile working environment. Doing so could entitle you to justice and improve conditions for you and all of your abused coworkers. 

Hostility on the job

When employees have to deal with intimidating and abusive circumstances, this can be categorized as a hostile work environment. A work environment is hostile when an employee has to deal with unwelcomed advances, comments, and behaviors based on their gender, ethnic identity, nationality, age, disability, and more. 

These abusive behaviors become so severe that they affect the terms and conditions of employment. Hostile environments are often pervasive and trample on the privileges of work. One way to differentiate between a hostile work environment and general rudeness is that the abusive actions are continuous. 

When someone makes an off-hand comment or employees experience the occasional disagreement, this doesn’t automatically mean the job is toxic. However, when the conduct is ongoing and disrupts employee’s abilities to do their job effectively, then it may be a hostile work environment. 

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment is one of the most commonly reported causes of hostile work environments.  The following are different types of sexual harassment: 

  • Physical advances that can include unwanted touching, like hugging, fondling, and other behaviors
  • Unwanted comments and remarks about a person’s appearance, shape, body, and clothing 
  • Lewd and inappropriate jokes
  • Showing inappropriate images, photos, posters, or other objects that may not belong in a professional environment
  • Sexually coercing employees and using sexual favors as the basis for employment decisions

When these behaviors are pervasive enough to alter an employee’s work conditions, consider speaking with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. Hostile work environments can be a violation of your legal rights. 

The effects of a hostile work environment

Hostile work environments can negatively affect all of those who are employed in the company. Workplace harassment victims often experience the following problems:

  • Anxiety, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, reduced self-esteem, and other emotional repercussions
  • Sleep disturbances, headaches and migraines, stress-related ailments, and other physical ailments
  • Poor job performance, missed time from work, and other problems 

Hostile work environments damage the talent that works there, cause legal consequences, reduce productivity, increase employee turnover, and create reputational damage. 

Taking action in a hostile work environment

Suppose you’ve suffered in a hostile work environment that refuses to address the sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse that employees face. In that case, employment law professionals suggest that you inform human resources, document each incident, learn your rights, and seek experienced legal counsel.