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When does a bad job become a hostile work environment?

Like most of your neighbors in Newport Beach, you spend a significant amount of time at work. While most jobs have both positive and negative aspects, you do not want to be miserable. Unfortunately, though, according to a recent study, as many as 20% of U.S. employees work in a hostile environment. 

As you may suspect, not every uncomfortable situation in the workplace constitutes a hostile work environment. On the contrary, for working conditions to turn into a hostile work environment, they must meet specific legal requirements. Here are some questions you should consider in deciding whether your job site is a hostile work environment.

Are you a member of a protected class? 

Before evaluating the conduct of your colleagues or managers, you must consider whether you are a member of a protected class. That is, for a hostile work environment claim, you must prove the discrimination you face at work is because of your race, religion, national origin, sex, age or membership in another group with legal protections. If you are not, you likely do not have a hostile work environment claim. 

Is the bad conduct pervasive? 

A single remark or off-color joke likely is not enough to create a hostile work environment. Rather, you must demonstrate the mistreatment you face is pervasive, ongoing or long-term. 

Does the conduct affect your working conditions? 

For a hostile work environment claim to succeed, you must demonstrate that it has a negative effect on your working conditions or work performance. If you are unable to perform your job duties because of the discrimination you face at work, you may be trying to do your job in a hostile work environment. 

Has your employer tried to resolve the issue? 

Your employer cannot stop workplace harassment or discrimination if he or she is unaware of the situation. As such, before you may file a hostile work environment claim, you must report the bad behavior to your employer. You must also provide sufficient time for your employer to investigate the matter and fix the problem. 

Working in a hostile environment can be downright miserable. Fortunately, you likely do not have to put up with discrimination or other mistreatment. If you think you have been the victim of a hostile work environment, you may need to act quickly both to improve working conditions and to protect your legal rights.

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