Intimidating work environment

If you believe you may be working in a hostile work environment, once all the legal boxes have been checked, trust your instincts.

For a hostile work environment to exist, there must be an overarching protected class.

Exactly what constitutes a stray remark warrants its own discussion, but the typical analysis reviews who made the remark — a decision maker or not; the nexus between the remark and the employment decision at issue; the ambiguity of the remark or whether it could reasonably be deemed discriminatory; and the temporal proximity between the remark and the adverse employment decision.

So, what’s the number one sign of a hostile work environment?

Before discussing the number one sign of a hostile work environment, it helps to discuss conduct that does not constitute a hostile work environment. In fact, a common defense for employers in employment discrimination cases, particularly those involving managers or supervisors, is that the alleged bad actor did not engage in discrimination, but was simply a “stickler” or a “loose cannon” known for giving everyone a hard time.

Cursing, casual joking, rudeness, petty slights, nitpicking, bossiness and unpleasant behavior, on its own, are not enough to bring a hostile work environment claim. An employer who routinely blows their lid, creates a threatening and intimidating work environment, and generally treats their employees poorly will be protected under the law if their conduct is deemed unrelated to a protected class.

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