Sep 30, 2019 02:27 PM EDT

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

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Do you feel as though you are being singled out at work? Is a coworker, talking about you, threatening you or generally making you uncomfortable? If this is the case, you may be hesitant to complain to the human resource department of your company.  Many times, workers are hesitant to complain when they are bullied or harassed because they are afraid of retaliation. However, the harassment of an employee can result in a hostile work environment.  

A poll conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute found that 37 percent of people surveyed thought that they had experienced harassment at work in their lifetime. The study also found that the majority of bullies were bosses who had the support of their coworkers and superiors. 

The state of Texas has laws protecting the elderly and persons who are disabled. In fact, there are federal laws preventing the harassment of disabled people. If you are disabled and you are abused by coworkers, you may be able to press criminal charges.  If you are treated differently because of your age, sex race, religion or genetic information, you will want to call the EEOC, as your employer is in violation of the law.

Even if you are not in a protected class, you can experience harassment and you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit.

There are a few circumstances that need to be present for a situation to constitute a hostile work environment. 

Bullying

Bullying occurs when one or more people verbally harass a coworker on a regular basis. It can include physical or verbal threats or unwanted actions. If your coworkers are taunting you, they may be attempting to undermine you or shake your confidence. If your boss yells at you or disparages you in front of your coworkers, this may constitute bullying. 

Professional intimidation 

Sometimes companies will try to encourage an employee to quit, so they will not receive unemployment, or they may try to discourage you from applying for promotions or other jobs within the corporation. Some bullied workers have been left out of meetings or not given proper instructions for performing work or have been given a copious amount of work, which would be impossible to finish. They may not give a worker all the tools or information they need to perform their job correctly. They may also deny a worker vacation time when approving it for their coworkers. 

Sexual Harassment. 

If someone in the office tells off-color jokes or is constantly talking about their sex life, that may qualify as sexual harassment. If you are told you will get a raise or promotion quid pro quo, you are definitely a victim of sexual harassment which has resulted in a hostile work environment

What to do if You are Being Harassed or Bullied at Work.

If you are being harassed or bullied, do not quit, continue to do your best at work, write down everything that happens and call an attorney to talk about your case.

In order to qualify as actual harassment, the actions of your coworkers and superiors must be severe and ongoing. A hostile work environment can be a hard thing to define, and you want to make sure that you have an experienced law firm in your corner. The attorneys at Thorpe & Hatcher - Dallas Employment Lawyers, are well versed in Texas Law and know what facts and arguments will win a hostile work environment case.

*Authoritative Sources:

https://workplacebullying.org/press/OccupationalHaz090707.html

https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

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