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What should I know about a hostile work environment?

Nobody wants to work in a place that is hostile; however, some employees are subjected to conditions that make the workplace hostile. While there aren't any federal laws against a hostile workplace, there are some instances in which a hostile workplace might fall under other laws.

What causes a workplace to be hostile?

A variety of factors can lead to a hostile workplace. A coworker who is bullying you might make the workplace hostile. A boss who plays favorites can do the same, as can a non-employee who is harassing you. It doesn't matter who is causing the workplace to be hostile. It only matters how the workplace is hostile when it comes to the legal side of the matter.

What kind of hostile workplace is against the law?

If the hostile workplace is caused by forms of discrimination or harassment that violate federal laws, then the hostile workplace is illegal. For example, if a person is making crude sexual jokes, that is illegal. If a person is discriminating based on age, gender, race, religion or similar factors, the law is being broken.

How can I fight these situations?

You have the right to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Generally, that must occur before you can take other legal action against your employer. It is important to know that you don't have to deal with the hostile workplace. If you are unsure about your legal ground for filing complaints, you can seek out answers to your questions so that you understand what your options are to get the hostility to stop.

Source:, "Hostile Work Environment," accessed April. 24, 2015

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