Intimidating work environment

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The fear to speak up and assert your rights is common, but so too is the threat of reprisal when an employee does come forward.

They may threaten an employee’s bonuses, income or job security. In some circumstances, particularly where the workplace is a municipality, government or law enforcement agency, an employee may truly feel they have no options since they’ve seen the dark side of unbridled authority and know firsthand that the checks and balances intended to stop unlawful behavior sometimes fail.For conduct and/or speech to rise to the level of a hostile work environment in these cases, the conduct must be intentional, severe or pervasive, and directly interfere with the employee’s ability to perform his or her job.For workplace conduct to be deemed severe or pervasive, a court or investigating agency will utilize a “reasonable person” standard, asking whether a reasonable person would consider the alleged conduct to be intimidating, hostile or abusive.In other words, when an employee alleges they’ve been subjected to a hostile work environment, it must be related to — and a direct result of — a group that is protected by a state or federal statute.One’s civil rights (and individual employment) must be threatened as part of the offensive conduct.

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