Friday, December 11, 2009

A Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed. A hostile work environment might be indicated by:

• Use of racially derogatory words, phrases, epithets;

• Demonstrations of a racial or ethnic nature such as a use of gestures, pictures or drawings which would offend a particular racial or ethnic group;

• Comments about an individual’s skin color or other racial/ethnic characteristics;

• Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature;

• Negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs);

• Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an employee’s birthplace or ancestry;

• Negative comments regarding an employee’s age when referring to employees 40 and over; or

• Derogatory or intimidating references to an employee’s mental or physical impairment.

A claim of harassment generally requires several elements, including:

• The complaining party must be a member of a statutorily protected class;

• S/he was subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct related to his or her membership in that protected class;

• The unwelcome conduct complained of was based on his or her membership in that protected class;

• The unwelcome conduct affected a term or condition of employment and/or had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with his or her work performance and/or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

According to the EEOC, an employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor's harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.

Workplace harassment is defined by law as behavior that, while offensive, is extremely serious because it changes the conditions of your employment or creates a hostile work environment. Harassment makes it makes it difficult for you to do your job.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Mary
This is Mountainbiker. I just discovered your site by luck on Dec 2nd.Sent an email but that bounced back.So I am posting here.

Thank you very much for maintaining this site.I am going thru
a similar situation where I was denied a promotion despite my
educational qualifications and experience. I have filed
a charge with EEOC for discrimination since the
employer failed to solve my complaint for nearly 6 months.

Just read your articles:

"Tangible Employment Actions and Your Salary and Benefits: Part I

and

Don't Give The Ammo to Shoot You With! "

You state exactly what I am going thru at work and I am fighting it.

I am so glad that I found your site when I am so early in the morning today.
I have bookmarked it and will go thru other articles tonite and offer feedback.

Note: I am also a fellow blogger.

Thanks again
-MB

5:31 PM  
Blogger Henrique Abrantes said...

Olá tudo bem? Eu tenho interesse em colocar um banner no seu blog.
Na verdade seria uma troca você colocaria um abnner no meu blog e vice versa entre em contato comigo:
E-mail: has.25@hotmail.com
Blog: http://has02.blogspot.com

4:13 AM  
Blogger Phyllis said...

Hello Mary,

I was a federal employee working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I reported a hostile work environment to by boss about my bosses. I ended up being assaulted by a man on my team. Boss belittled me especially when I would disobey orders from colonels.
I was not protected at all. I was in fear of my life. My bosses made fun of me and gave me my first ever four page negative counseling statement.

Doctor took me out of work. I was diagnosis with PTSD, I have to have a total hystereomcy, and I have to take depression medication.
I pleaded my case to the Baltimore Senator, The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski. I won on paper however, I never received any monetary, or an apology from this incident and this happened in December 22, 2008.
Since then I was taken out of the federal government. I am still unemployed today. If you can offer me some help I would love to hear it, please.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Phyllis said...

Hello Mary,

I was a federal employee working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I reported a hostile work environment to by boss concerning my bosses. I ended up being assaulted by a man on my team. My supervisor belittled me especially when I would not disobey orders from our colonels.

I was not protected at all. I was in fear of my life. My bosses made fun of me and gave me my first ever four page negative counseling statement because I report this abuse.

My doctor took me out of work. I was diagnosis with PTSD, I have to have a total hystereomcy, and I have to take medication for depression.

I pleaded my case to the Baltimore, Maryland Senator, The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski. I won on paper however, I never received any monetary, or an apology from this incident and this happened in December 22, 2008.
Since then I was put out of the federal government. I am still unemployed today. If you can offer me some help I would love to hear it, please.

11:29 AM  

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