Even if you enjoy the environment in which you work, things can change quickly. For example, if your company hires a new supervisor, this person may not share the same level of professionalism as what you’re accustomed to.
If you find yourself working in a hostile environment, it’s critical to collect evidence to back up your claim and to take steps to protect yourself at all times.
There are many examples of a hostile workplace environment, including the following:
- Offensive remarks about an individual, e.g., derogative comments about their clothing or their appearance
- Forced and unwanted physical contact like someone brushing against a person’s body
- The sharing of sexually suggestive jokes and/or materials
- Use racially-charged words
- Negative comments about a person’s religion
- Expressed disdain for people of a particular cultural background
These adverse conditions may develop quickly, but it doesn’t typically take long to perceive that you’re in the middle of a hostile workplace environment. While you may hope it goes away naturally, you can’t count on this happening. Here’s what you can do:
- Ask the person to stop, especially if you’re directly affected by their actions
- Collect evidence that shows the offensive and hostile actions
- Report the incident(s) to your Human Resources (HR) department
- Follow up to ensure that the appropriate action is taken
There’s a chance that speaking up will result in even more trouble, even including your employer terminating your employment. If this happens, you can take additional actions. Reviewing your employee handbook and asking why you were terminated are steps you can take to protect your legal rights.