Hostile Work Environment | Meaning and Definition

What is a hostile work environment?

A hostile work environment is one in which employees face a variety of problems that impair their job and professional lives. There have been incidents of prejudice and bullying based on discrimination laws like race, colour, ethnicity, sex, pregnancies, nationality, age (40 or older), disabilities, or genetic data in the Hostile Work Environment. It is a major concern for businesses since it influences job satisfaction and efficiency. Not all hostile workplace qualifies as a hostile work environment; they must meet specific legal requirements. 

Due to illegal discrimination, a hostile work environment develops when one individual’s behaviour within a workplace develops an atmosphere that is problematic or uneasy for another person to function in. Slight annoying quirks and infrequent events are rarely considered legal offences of discriminatory practices. A violation must produce a working atmosphere that is threatening, hostile, or insulting to a rational individual in seeking to impose punishment. An employer can be held accountable for attempting to prevent these working practices unless it can demonstrate that it attempted to block the mistreatment and that the employee did not use the employer’s bullying counter-measures or tools.

When the administration acts in a way that makes an employee depart in revenge for some behavior, a hostile work environment can be established. For instance, if a worker reported workplace safety problems, was hurt, intended to enter a union, or complained to management about regulatory issues, management responded by harassing and pressuring the individual to leave. Employers have attempted to compel employees to resign by applying unjustified discipline, limiting hours, lowering salaries, or relocating the unhappy employee to a different location.