A hostile environment is created when the intimidating or demeaning behavior of others is so great as to interfere or prevent a person from participating in or realizing the intended benefits of an institutional activity, employment, or resource.
Types of Hostile Environments
· Constructive discharge
· Contract related
This type of hostile environment occurs when managers or co-workers engage in offensive conduct toward you that is centered around the categories of sex, gender, age, race, disability, religion, or even pregnancy. This type of hostile environment is prohibited under federal anti-discrimination laws. An example would be if your job threatened is you refused to have sexual relations with a supervisor or coworker. This case in particular would be a sexually hostile environment.
This concerns forms of bad conduct from employers that is not necessarily sexual or racial comments, but general rudeness and disrespect. There is no law that requires people in the workplace to be polite and pleasant, however if an employer is acting in such a way as a form of retaliation they are breaking the law. They are intentionally creating a hostile environment through their behavior as a means of retaliation. Any form of unfairness of bad treat directed solely at you or that mentions what they are retaliating against can serve as an example.
A “constructive discharge” environment is the result of bad conduct toward an employee with the goal of encouraging them to quit their job. Employers may do this as a form of retaliation or to prevent you from gaining medical or other benefits that could be costly to the company.
You should be suspicious that an employer is trying to create a hostile environment if upon being hired your employment contract included a non-competition agreement. Your employer could be trying to leverage an advantage in an anticipated legal dispute with you. For example, he or she may want to let you go but not want to pay out your contract, so he or she builds a case that you deserve to be fired. His goal could be to take away from your ability to enforce your contract.