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What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

What's a Hostile Work Environment?

The general legal definition for a hostile work environment is one that is so hostile that the worker fears going to work. Federal code and case law describes the atmosphere as being "offensive, intimidating, or oppressive." Oftentimes, it develops because the employer wants the employee to do something and the employee refuses to do it because of his legal rights.


What Are Some Examples of a Hostile Work Environment?

For instance, if an employee reports some illegal behavior of his or her employer, the employer likely knows that he cannot fire the employee. Instead, the employer may attempt to make the workplace and working experience so miserable that the employee quits.


An employer, however, isn't the only one who can create a hostile work environment. Another common scenario that shows up repeatedly in case law involves union representatives who want to get new employees to sign on as union members. If that new employee refuses to sign up, the representative or other members start intimidating or otherwise harassing that employee to get him to sign up.



If you have questions about workplace harassment, you may want to ask a lawyer.