Most people have had negative experiences at work. From getting yelled at by the boss, to rude co-workers, and even bullying from clients, co-workers, or employers. There are many ways employees can be mistreated on the job. However, “hostile work environment” in legal terms has a very specific meaning. In many cases, what a layperson will consider a “hostile work environment” will not qualify as a hostile work environment under the law.
Under the law, being yelled at or mistreated to a certain degree doesn’t quite qualify as a hostile work environment. Additionally in some states, you may be an at-will employee, which gives the employer a significant amount of rights when it comes to firing.
If you’re dealing with an unpleasant work environment and/or bullying continued at work, your best bet is to attempt to work through it internally. You may be able to approach the HR department or another manager at your work to resolve the issue. If however, the issue is systemic within the company, oftentimes your best bet may be to start looking for another job. In some lines of work, a lateral move may be fairly straightforward – with jobs in the healthcare field for example, most professionals are enjoying health careers in demand and should have little trouble finding work in a new environment. In other positions however, it can be significantly more difficult.
If you do feel that your employer may have stepped over a legal line, or if there is harassment based potentially on a racial, gender, or sexual orientation basis, do contact an employment lawyer for a consultation. Unfortunately for employees however, legal recourse is often not available for mere unpleasantness.