The person complaining must prove they were discriminated against based on race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, pregnancy, age, or disability, and that the actions must have been pervasive and severe enough to be considered abusive. Bullying is a pattern of humiliating, offensive workplace conduct most often perpetrated by someone in a position of power and/or authority. A hostile work environment claim is a workplace discrimination claim under federal law. All jobs have some level of stress — even on good days. It is imperative to use specific conflict resolution techniques to help alleviate hostility within the workplace. If an employee feels as though they are part of a hostile work environment, they should first speak with the human resources department to make a formal notification of hostile behavior. Keep reading to learn what steps can employers take to defuse a toxic workplace with tips from Jean Copeland Haertl, CEO & Founder of Safety and Respect at Work, LLC in Boston. Bullying often manifests as an abuse of power whose targets suffer serious … A hostile work environment can be poisonous to productivity, morale and teamwork. Situation 1: Jeff and Maria are co-workers at a company that lets employees set their own hours. Don’t let a toxic work environment catch you off guard. But understanding when to intervene and practice conflict management can be tricky; you must first recognize the signs of bad behavior. A hostile work environment exists when offensive behavior or any form of harassment affects your ability to complete a job. However, if going to work (or just the thought of going to work) makes you tired, depressed, or even physically ill, that's more than just general work stress; these are the signs of a toxic work environment. 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