Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

What creates a hostile workplace environment?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

In some cases, when an employee alleges that they’ve been discriminated against or experienced harassment, they’ll say that they are in a hostile workplace environment. They are subjected to this kind of behavior on a consistent basis. It’s not just a one-time event, but a long-term situation.

It is this long-term nature that is the first qualifier for a hostile workplace environment. The harassment continues and the employee eventually realizes that this is the type of treatment they can expect on a daily basis. 

This isn’t to say that it’s not harassment if an employee is subjected to a one-time event – such as coworkers making lewd jokes about their gender or disparaging comments about their ethnicity. But a hostile workplace environment is different because this type of behavior is expected and constant.

2 other key qualifications

Next, it is important to note that a hospital workplace environment doesn’t just mean that coworkers don’t get along or that one person finds the other person annoying. It has to be based on a fundamental violation of that person‘s rights. For instance, the harassment could be focused around their age, national origin, religion, sex or gender, pregnancy status or race.

Finally, in a hostile workplace environment, there is usually fairly severe conduct. The employee who is being harassed may feel intimidated. They may believe that what they are experiencing is abusive and offensive. In other words, it has a very real detrimental impact on their life and their ability to do their job. 

In a situation like this, employees may be wise to consider all of their legal options. Harassment and discrimination are illegal, and there are steps that can be taken to put an end to the behavior.