Hostile Work Environment

Your boss is horrible to work for. He talks down to his team during meetings, is grumpy, and generally puts everyone on edge. But you probably do not have a case against him. It is not against the law for a boss to act like this. Your boss can be a jerk on general principles—in that he is pretty much a jerk to everyone.

What a supervisor—or anyone—cannot do is discriminate or create a hostile work environment based upon a protected class or activity. Examples of discrimination include name calling, making threats, joking, ridiculing, mocking a person or people about their:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race or nationality
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Gender or sexual preference

Repeated behaviors such as these ultimately creates a work environment that would be intimidating, offensive or hostile. An example of this could be when a manager consistently discriminates against an employee due to her color or religion and perhaps calls her names, says he’s “joking,” or otherwise makes working for him very difficult.

A hostile work environment is not usually defined by isolated incidents but repeated behaviors. If you believe you are being discriminated against in this way, it’s important to document as many incidents as possible, including dates, times and any witnesses. You may have a case that’s bigger than you think.

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Learn more about some of the issues that create a true hostile work environment:

Sexual harassment
Wrongful termination