6 Signs You're in a Hostile Work Environment—And How To Get Out!

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Work + Life Balance

Feel like you're stuck in a hostile workplace? Chances are that you're 100 percent right and your workplace is toxic. Here's what to do next.

By Ellen French November 28, 2023

Photo

toxic work environment

a boss who doesn’t listen well

a coworker who’s gossipy

Table of Contents

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

6 Signs of a Hostile Work Environment

Examples of Hostile Behavior at Work

How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment

hostile work environment

bad workplace behavior

What Is a Hostile Work Environment?

workplace harassment

Workable

The person being harassed (or witnesses to the harassment) must endure the behavior in order to stay employed.

The harassment is “severe or pervasive enough” that the environment would be considered intimidating or abusive to an average person.

6 Signs of a Hostile Work Environment

bullying at work

Sign #1: It's a toxic work environment.

telltale signs of a toxic work environment

Sign #2: The hostile workplace behavior happens consistently.

Sign #3: The hostile behavior becomes aggressive.

bullying behavior at work

rage-quitting

Sign #4: The hostile behavior is discriminatory.

EEOC’s definition of harassment

speaking poorly about an older colleague

sexist

sexual harassmen

Live Another Day : Extensive information on mental health and substance use resources for People of Color. Their mission is equal access to life-saving resources.

Detox Local : An excellent resource that features abundant information including mental health and substance use resources specifically for the AAPI (American Asian and Pacific Islander) community.

Sign #5: The behavior disrupts the ability to work or the ability to move forward in one's career.

move up the ladder in your career

jump ship and quit

your mental health

Sign #6: The victim of the harassing behavior feels stuck.

the boss you hate

gaslighting techniques

preparing your finances

looking for a promising new job

Examples of Hostile Behavior at Work

Sexual harassment like sexually suggestive behavior, showing photos, unwanted physical touching, making sexual jokes, or invading someone’s personal space

Discriminatory, racist comments or jokes, or ethnic slurs

Consistently commenting on someone’s appearance

Group shaming of a single person

Sabotage of a person’s work

Unwelcome touching of any kind

Threatening behavior

Forming an online group that excludes a colleague for the sake of shaming or bullying

Posting photos of a colleague online

Online bullying through chat or social media platforms

Sabotage of someone’s work online

How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment

the EEOC protects employees from retaliation

Tags:

Work-Life Balance

workplace politics

office culture

company culture

know your rights

Ellen French A native of small-town Mississippi, Ellen graduated with a BA in English from the University of Mississippi in 2011. After teaching high school English in Charleston, South Carolina for a few years, she earned an MA in American Literature from the University of Virginia in 2018. After interning with Career Contessa, Ellen joined the team to manage special content and editorial projects. She also freelances, specializing in content writing, copywriting, and copy editing. Ellen’s hobbies include reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

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Back to Articles. Work + Life Balance. Feel like you're stuck in a hostile workplace? Chances are that you're 100 percent right and your workplace is toxic. Here's what to do next. By Ellen French November 28, 2023. Photo. toxic work environment. a boss who doesn’t listen well. a coworker who’s gossipy. Table of Contents. What Is a Hostile Work Environment? 6 Signs of a Hostile Work Environment. Examples of Hostile Behavior at Work. How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment. hostile work environment. bad workplace behavior. What Is a Hostile Work Environment? workplace harassment. Workable. The person being harassed (or witnesses to the harassment) must endure the behavior in order to stay employed. The harassment is “severe or pervasive enough” that the environment would be considered intimidating or abusive to an average person. 6 Signs of a Hostile Work Environment. bullying at work. Sign #1: It's a toxic work environment. telltale signs of a toxic work environment. Sign #2: The hostile workplace behavior happens consistently. Sign #3: The hostile behavior becomes aggressive. bullying behavior at work. rage-quitting. Sign #4: The hostile behavior is discriminatory. EEOC’s definition of harassment. speaking poorly about an older colleague. sexist. sexual harassmen. Live Another Day : Extensive information on mental health and substance use resources for People of Color. Their mission is equal access to life-saving resources. Detox Local : An excellent resource that features abundant information including mental health and substance use resources specifically for the AAPI (American Asian and Pacific Islander) community. Sign #5: The behavior disrupts the ability to work or the ability to move forward in one's career. move up the ladder in your career. jump ship and quit. your mental health. Sign #6: The victim of the harassing behavior feels stuck. the boss you hate. gaslighting techniques. preparing your finances. looking for a promising new job. Examples of Hostile Behavior at Work. Sexual harassment like sexually suggestive behavior, showing photos, unwanted physical touching, making sexual jokes, or invading someone’s personal space. Discriminatory, racist comments or jokes, or ethnic slurs. Consistently commenting on someone’s appearance. Group shaming of a single person. Sabotage of a person’s work. Unwelcome touching of any kind. Threatening behavior. Forming an online group that excludes a colleague for the sake of shaming or bullying. Posting photos of a colleague online. Online bullying through chat or social media platforms. Sabotage of someone’s work online. How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment. the EEOC protects employees from retaliation. Tags: Work-Life Balance. workplace politics. office culture. company culture. know your rights. Ellen French A native of small-town Mississippi, Ellen graduated with a BA in English from the University of Mississippi in 2011. After teaching high school English in Charleston, South Carolina for a few years, she earned an MA in American Literature from the University of Virginia in 2018. After interning with Career Contessa, Ellen joined the team to manage special content and editorial projects. She also freelances, specializing in content writing, copywriting, and copy editing. Ellen’s hobbies include reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and daughter. You May Also Like. Work + Life Balance. Happy Work Anniversary to Me! How to Celebrate Every Work Anniversary. We regularly celebrate engagements, marriages, and births, but what about celebrating work anniversaries? Here's how to make your other big day a big deal. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. Stop Being Flaky! How to Be More Reliable at Work. Are you a flake at work? We're talking about flakiness and how it affects your work and relationships. Here's how to deal with flakes at work and how not to be a flake. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. Toxic Traits at Work! How to Recognize + Stop Toxic Behaviors. We have all encountered a toxic person. When you have to work alongside folks with toxic traits while maintaining your professionalism, well, it's tough. Here are toxic trait warning signs + what to do. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. 15 Part-Time Remote Jobs + Where to Find Them. Looking for some part-time work without having to leave your home? We thought so! Here are 15 part-time remote jobs you can get—and how to land them. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. 9 Perspective-Shifting TED Talks on Confidence. Looking for a little confidence boost? These TED Talks tackle confidence, how to build confidence, and how to maintain a confident state of mind. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. Negativity in the Office: How to Stay Positive at Work. So, you're working in a toxic environment? If moving on to a new job is not quite an option, here's how to cultivate some positivity in a problematic workplace. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. How to Start A Professional Email + Email Openers to Use. How do you start your emails? Do you use the friendly "Hi" or the more formal "Dear"? Let's dive into the best email greetings for every type of email—from a professional correspondence to an email to your best friend. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. Why You Should Start a Women’s Club at Your Company (+ How to Do It) Is there an inclusive women's club or organization at your company? If not, maybe you're the one who should start a women's committee at work. Here's how to do it. Read More >. Work + Life Balance. 6 Email Mistakes You're Probably Making. Think you're the Gmail queen? Make sure you're not getting too casual with your email correspondence. Here's how to professionally communicate via email while still being you. Read More >. Related Advice. Work + Life Balance. Work Culture. Diversity, Belonging + Inclusion. Working From Home. Workplace Toxicity. Working Parents. Routines + Productivity. Have you signed up for our newsletter? I'M SO IN. By clicking "submit," you agree to receive emails from Career Contessa and accept our web terms of use and privacy policy . Get the Best Career Advice Delivered To Your Inbox. Join our newsletter to stay in the loop. I'm So In. By clicking "submit," you agree to receive emails from Career Contessa and accept our web terms of use and privacy policy .