Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, or Sexual Harassment / Discrimination = Hostile Work Environment

These are the new buzz-words in the employment world. The questions
always becomes; How do I know the work environment is hostile for a
particular employee? and Did I know or should I have known that
the work environment was hostile?

A hostile work environment is a situation in which an employer or coworker’s repeated actions make it impossible for an employee to perform his or her job duties.

As an employer, you are negligent if you fail to properly investigate
these types of accusations. In fact, in most work environments,
you required to investigate. Without a thorough investigation,
by an objective third party, it is often difficult to determine
the severity of the situation. When a court or jury looks at the
evidence presented, they sit in judgment as the reasonable or
objective person. Thus, the need to engage the services of an
outside, objective, impartial, professional investigator.

More often than not, employee complaints do not rise to the level
of a Hostile Work Environment, but there is still the need to
document and investigate these complaints in an effort to determine
what or more importantly, who, the problem might be.

Other options include what are usually referred to as Climate Surveys
that help the employer learn the root causes of the undesirable
issues or problems. These also provide the opportunity for the
employees to confidentially express concerns, vent, or simply
feel as if they have been heard. The results of a Climate Survey
are not used for discipline, but rather to determine the direction
your organization is going.