Being in a job that is dissatisfying or unpleasant in which one coworker is consistently rude, where there is no teamwork, or where management does not take steps to foster a positive atmosphere, can all contribute to a workplace environment that can be defined as toxic or hostile. An absence of job perks, benefits, incentives or recognition also contributes greatly to an unpleasant workplace.
Bad managers are often cited as the root cause of the dissatisfaction. A recent survey of U.S. employees revealed that slightly more than half are currently looking for a new job or are open to a new one, and 70% of them cite the work environment created by the manager as contributing to worker disengagement.
Legal requirements for a hostile work environment
Job dissatisfaction and disengagement alone are not grounds for filing a discrimination suit, however. A hostile work environment claim is defined under federal law as a workplace discrimination claim that can be due to:
- Sexual harassment
- Age discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Title VII violations, including discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or genetic information
In addition, retaliation against an employee is considered hostile, as are physical and verbal assaults, ridicule and slurs. What behavior, actions or communication are legally defined as discriminatory is guided and monitored by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), created under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Work conditions in which intimidation, verbal or physical abuse, or in other ways oppressive conditions, create an insufferable work environment are often due to the actions, attitude or encouragement of the employer.
Employers can face liability under both federal and Kentucky law for either being the source of discrimination or for creating hostile work conditions. Remedies can include monetary compensation for:
- the cost of searching for a new job,
- loss of pay,
- medical bills,
- pain and suffering.
Punitive damages can also be asserted that will punish the employer so that it won’t happen to another employee in the future.
Finding an experienced employment law attorney who will aggressively fight for workplace accountability if you have been in a hostile work environment is the first step toward justice and healing.