What’s considered a hostile workplace when you work from home?

Working from home in California seems like a dream come true. You have the freedom of working remotely right from the comfort of your own home. However, working away from an office doesn’t mean you’ll definitely avoid a hostile work environment–it can still be a problem to be aware of.

What makes a workplace environment hostile?

As per employment law, harassment in the workplace is illegal. Unfortunately, it happens even with more people than ever working from home. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a workplace environment becomes hostile when there is severe or pervasive conduct against other employees based on their race, sex or any other legally protected classification. Harassment occurs when there is unwelcome conduct that occurs frequently. However, if the conduct is very severe, a single incident can be considered harassment as well.

When there is a hostile workplace environment, it significantly affects a person’s ability to perform their job. Job performance can be negatively impacted if the harassment causes a hostile, offensive or intimidating environment.

Hostile work-from-home environment

Even when a person is working remotely, their workplace can still be hostile if they are experiencing harassment. Employment law requires employees to behave civilly and in a non-threatening manner. If two employees are speaking on the phone, through a chat service or email or through video chat, it might not be so easy to simply end the conversation. This is especially true if the person doing the harassing is a supervisor rather than a coworker.

It can be more challenging to prove a hostile workplace environment while working remotely, but it is not impossible. Harassment typically occurs through electronic communications. Employees who are being harassed have to demonstrate that the conduct was harassing and severe or pervasive to the point where it affected their work performance. Usually, keeping records of the harassment is sufficient proof of a claim that might otherwise be “he said, she said” in nature.

Who can help if you are a victim of workplace harassment?

An attorney can help you fight back if you are the victim of a hostile workplace environment. An attorney could protect your rights and help you prepare a claim against the offending employee and possibly your employer.