Hostility in the workplace is often overlooked and underreported because employees do not always recognize that they are working in a hostile environment. The legal criteria that needs to be met in order to classify a workplace as hostile is not widely known, discouraging the average person from reporting possible problems. No adult wants to place his or her career at risk by complaining about incidents that were not actually inappropriate or hostile. Obtaining outside help to determine if you are trapped in a hostile work environment is the first step to getting the relief you deserve.
Harassment in the workplace is common in spite of laws and progress made to punish those who perpetrate or condone it. Unfortunately, harassment is one of the first signs of a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate touching, lewd jokes, or attempts to degrade an employee still happen frequently. Regardless of the position of the person who is engaging in the harassment, the anxiety of expecting the hear sexually driven comments or fearing being subjected to unwanted physical contact makes it nearly impossible to focus on performing your job duties in an efficient manner. In extreme cases, the harassment may progress into actual workplace violence that involves threatening you with violence, escalating verbal abuse, and sending threatening messages to you or those in whom you have confided.
Intimidated into Remaining Silent
Eventually a person who is dealing with behavior and treatment that is disruptive, makes one feel uncomfortable, and creates difficulties performing basic job duties will attempt to report the problem. The typical reaction to workplace hostility is reporting the incidents to an immediate supervisor, manager, or a person who works in human resources. Under normal circumstances, making a complaint will lead to the complaint being documented prior to decisive action being taken. Unfortunately, if you are working in a hostile environment, the people who are supposed to help you may actively seek to silence you. In addition to discouraging you from making further complaints, you may receive less desirable work hours or be tasked with unpleasant work duties.
Punished for Reporting
After dealing with various forms of workplace harassment, violence, and having supervisors or coworkers attempt to force the victim to remain silent, it is only natural that a person will want to file an official report. The report is usually in writing made to a senior employee or appropriate staff member in human resources. A person who is trapped in a hostile work environment will face almost immediate retaliation and punishment for documenting his or her experiences. Punishment can come in a variety of forms such as passing over a qualified candidate for a promotion, demoting an employee, refusing to grant raises, or encouraging workplace isolation by letting your co workers believe they will be punished for associating with you.
Contacting an Attorney
Working in a hostile environment can cause serious psychological and emotional distress. Being isolated from coworkers while simultaneously being denied promotions, raises, and other benefits that you deserve can combine to make your job unbearable. If you feel that you are being victimized contact a hostile work environment attorney. An attorney familiar with Colorado state and federal law prohibiting workplace harassment can help to determine if you have a claim. The team at HKM Employment Attorneys is ready to discuss your unique situation and help you decide how to proceed. Contact our conveniently located Denver, Colorado office today to schedule a consultation.