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Signs of a hostile work environment

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2023 | Employment Law

Hostile work environments affect at least one-fifth of the US workforce. These workers feel intimidated, scared or uncomfortable due to the conduct of others at their jobs.

Therefore, these are some signs of a hostile work environment that you should watch for.

Public criticism

All employee disciplinary action should occur in private. Your boss or peers should provide constructive criticism away from the rest of the employees. Public criticism, shaming or discipline is a sure sign of a hostile work environment. In fact, it can become coercive, getting you to do things in specific ways.


Whether it is verbal or nonverbal, aggression is never acceptable. While anger is a normal human emotion, it is not appropriate for the workplace, especially if it results in aggressive or threatening behavior. Everyone in the workplace should have a strong handle on their emotions and have the ability to work through them without taking them out on others.

Unhealthy competition

Competition is healthy in most circumstances. However, in the workplace, competition should serve a purpose, such as boosting morale, encouraging productivity increases and just having fun. However, when competition becomes divisive, it becomes unhealthy. Look for times when your boss pits you against other employees in a way that discourages teamwork or causes harassment, bullying or other offensive actions.

Blaming others

When you were young, you probably blamed your bad behavior on someone or something else to reduce your punishment. Unfortunately, some people have trouble growing out of this stage, even blaming others who had nothing to do with the issue. They may even blame you consistently for things, resulting in disciplinary action, harassing emails or extra scrutiny.

If you feel uncomfortable at work, look for these and other signs that you may be in a hostile environment.