Do Your Problems at Work Constitute a Hostile Environment?

hostile environment at workLet us say you really hate your job, and it is mostly because of the people with whom you work.  A negative and hostile environment at work makes it miserable day after day. Does what you are experiencing rise to a level that might be worth seeking legal help?  The short answer is… maybe. 

Hostile Environment at Work

If the environment at work is leading to feelings of depression or anxiety, it is possible that your employer is not taking state and federal harassment laws seriously.  Particularly if the bullying behavior or abuse is a repetitive problem against a protected class, a lawsuit may be your best option going forward. In California, any unwanted behavior toward a person in a protected class that would be judged as offensive to a reasonable adult could legally be classified as a hostile work environment

Protected Classes

Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against any person based on the following:

  • Race, color, nationality;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • Disability;
  • Citizenship;
  • Genetics.

In California, the anti-discrimination laws are more extensive, and prohibit discrimination abased on the following:

  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender;
  • Military status;
  • Politics;
  • Marital status;
  • Having been a victim of assault, domestic violence, or stalking.

Is it Illegal?

The fact of the matter is plenty of nasty or annoying behavior is not necessarily illegal. In order to cross the legal standard, one of three things about the behavior must be true:

  • It is discriminatory;
  • It violates specific company policy;
  • It leads to safety issues in the workplace.

Additionally, in California issues are generally part of a series of actions that compile to create a hostile workplace environment.

Who Might be Guilty of Harassment?

Many people mistakenly believe that harassment might only occur at the hands of a supervisor or co-worker.  In actuality, clients, vendors, or customers might be guilty of harassment, and an employer has a responsibility to address issues involving even these groups.

What if the Harassment is Unintentional?

If there is one thing the #MeToo movement has brought to light, even comments or behaviors that were not intended to offend could be considered harassment, particularly if they continue after a request has been made to stop. Furthermore, a victim of harassment does not necessarily have to be the target of the comments or behavior. Anyone who is exposed to offensive, intimidating, or abusive conduct and who experiences offense or discomfort may have the right to pursue action against the offender.

If You Suffer From a Hostile Environment at Work

If you are the victim of a hostile environment at work, do not suffer in silence. You have the law on your side, and at Beck Law P.C.,you will have an experienced and an aggressive labor law team fighting for justice on your behalf. If you work in Sonoma County, Mendocino County, or Lake County California, contact our Santa Rosa office to schedule a consultation.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.