Hostile work environments in Washington and how to handle them

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2022 | Employment Law |

People spend a great deal of time at work, sometimes even more than they spend in their homes. And thus, it is essential that they feel like they belong and are supported to give their best to the tasks at hand. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some workplaces in Washington are very hostile to the point where they kill creativity, cause decreased performance and lead to depression, low self-esteem and diffidence. It’s important to know what exactly a hostile work environment is and how to protect yourself from it.

Understanding a hostile work environment in Washington

A hostile work environment is a workplace filled with discrimination, harassment, or other forms of offensive behavior that interfere with an employee’s ability to do their job. This type of atmosphere can be caused by co-workers, managers, customers or anyone else in the workplace.

Requirements for a hostile work environment

According to employment law, three requirements must be met for a work environment to be considered hostile: the behavior must be offensive and unwelcome; the behavior must be directed at the victim because of their protected characteristic (such as race, gender, or religion) and the behavior must create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. It is important to note that a single incident may not constitute a hostile work environment. Rather, it is the repeated exposure to such behavior that creates a hostile work environment.

What to do about it

Firstly, you should try to address the issue with the person who is causing the problem. Sometimes, someone may be unaware that their words or actions are making you uncomfortable. If that does not work, you can file a complaint with your company’s human resources department. If your company does not have a human resources department, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If the person making your workplace hostile is your employer, it may be daunting to file a lawsuit against them. However, it is important to remember that you have rights, and it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for taking action.

There is no excuse for harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Even if the offender is saying it with a smile or playing it as a joke, it does not make the behavior any less offensive. If you are subjected to a hostile work environment, it is important to know that you have options and resources available to you to protect yourself.