What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment can lead to a claim with the Montana Human Rights Bureau or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). But there is a common misperception of what constitutes a hostile work environment.
According to the EEOC, a hostile work environment is created by unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. This conduct becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Contrary to what many employees believe, a rude boss or annoying co-worker does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment unless the conduct is aimed at what’s called a “protected class” — age, race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin. As explained by the EEOC, petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
If you think you are the victim of a hostile work environment, you should contact the McGrady Law Firm for a consultation.