Texas Hostile Work Environments
Workers deserve to feel safe and comfortable on the job. Unfortunately, a hostile work environment can turn a dream job into a nightmare. When you experience hostility in the workplace, it’s important to know your rights.
There’s no place for discrimination in any job, and an experienced employment attorney can help you understand what to do to protect yourself.
What Is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is a workplace in which an employee feels uncomfortable, scared, offended, or intimidated due to the behavior of an individual or group. To enter the realm of “hostile,” the behavior has to be pervasive or severe. Unfortunately, a single rude comment does not qualify.
To create a “toxic work environment,” there must be severe or frequent offensive behavior.
The definition can leave you with several questions to consider.
- What is “unwelcome behavior”?
- How frequent or severe does the conduct need to be?
- Are there tangible signs of a hostile workplace?
Thinking through these questions can help you understand your situation. It’s the job of an employer to promote a happy, productive workplace
What Is Unwelcome Behavior?
- Sexual harassment
Many kinds of inappropriate behavior can qualify as unwelcome conduct. Consistent, purposeful conduct or a single severe incident can lead to a hostile work environment in Texas.
For example, if someone makes a sexist comment towards you, they should face consequences. However, a single comment may not qualify as hostility.
Alternatively, if that individual is your supervisor or makes such comments often, that conduct can foster a hostile workplace. The same is true for severe actions, such as sexual assault. That may seem a bit extreme as an example, but severe actions do happen.
What Kind of Behavior Creates a Hostile Work Environment?
Here are a few examples of hostile work environments in Texas:
Sexual or Race-Based Harassment
These behaviors always foster a hostile workplace for employees. People cannot make vulgar comments about another person, use racial slurs, or ridicule someone based on their sex or race. These are not behaviors typical of a healthy environment.
Discrimination comes in many forms, from not promoting someone of a specific gender to not hiring people over a certain age. Bias against groups of people fosters a hostile work environment. Moreover, discrimination against protected groups is illegal in the United States.
If a supervisor frequently yells at their employee or shoves a colleague, it’s not okay. It can cause people to feel scared and victimized. While it’s a little harder to notice, passive-aggressive behavior and unhealthy competition are other red flags. They aren’t necessarily illegal, consistent aggressive behavior can foster hostility.
Ridicule & Victimization
Joking and teasing can be okay between colleagues, but some “jokes” hurt people. If someone pranks a colleague, leaving them frustrated or embarrassed, it may constitute a hostile work environment.
Alternatively, say someone creates a private Slack channel to ridicule a specific person. That kind of targeting is unacceptable in general, especially in a professional setting.
The behaviors above have the potential to qualify for a hostile work environment in Texas. The signs of some may be harder to recognize, but not if it’s happening to you. Remember that your employer has the responsibility to foster a safe, comfortable environment for their employees.
If they fail to do so, you have rights.
Your Options When You Face Harassment
When you face hostility or harassment at work, your first step is to report it to a Human Resources representative or superior. They can investigate the situation and take action to resolve the offending behavior.
Employment law protects workers against hostile behavior on the job. If your supervisor or HR department doesn’t follow through, you have additional options for recourse.
- Report the issue to your employer
- File a complaint with the EEOC
- File a lawsuit
If you decide to pursue legal action, gather as much evidence as much as possible. This includes records of the behavior and witnesses who can confirm your story.
Are You Experiencing a Hostile Work Environment?
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in your workplace, a lawyer can help you understand your rights and options. The Craighead Law Firm represents employees to help them protect their rights. Our firm is ready to assist with valuable advice throughout your case.
To schedule a consultation, call our firm at 832-345-3000. An experienced attorney will walk you through the steps of your case. Our top priority is to represent your best interests at every stage.