5 Signs Of A Hostile Workplace | Cooper and Friedman, Local Attorneys

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5 Signs You May Be In A Hostile Work Environment

Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on September 24, 2021
Toxic Work Environment Lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky

Nobody begins a new job thinking that they’ll have to deal with a hostile workplace or toxic employer. And, unfortunately, many people don’t even realize that they’re in an inhospitable environment until it has taken a toll on their mental, physical, or financial wellbeing. That’s because it’s easy to convince yourself that your dissatisfaction at a job isn’t valid, or that you can’t afford to find a new job, or that this job is simply too good to leave. 

Hostile work environments are far more common than we realize. According to a recent Gallup survey, 67% of U.S. workers are disengaged at work and 51% say they’re actively looking for a new job or are open to one. If you suspect that you may be working in a hostile space, read on. 

5 Signs That Your Workplace May Be Hostile

1. Your boss is a jerk.

65% of workplace bullies are bosses. A poor leader can have a ripple effect, creating a toxic workplace culture. If your boss isn’t directly “harmful” but is manipulative, passive-aggressive, unresponsive, intimidates you, isolates you, intrudes on you, or undermines you, it can be traumatic and difficult to endure.

2. Poor behavior is pervasive.

Everyone deals with the occasional rude comment from a coworker or boss, but if you experience a daily or regular amount of hostility or harmful actions, this is a red flag. 

3. Your ability to work is affected.

If your ability to function, or your career progress is impacted by the hostility or culture of your coworkers, it’s likely a hostile environment.

4. Your employer ignores hostile actions or behavior.

If you are treated poorly by coworkers or a boss and complain to HR or someone with authority, and they take no action to resolve the issue, you’re likely in a bad environment.

5. There’s poor communication.

Being able to successfully communicate with coworkers is arguably the most important skill in a team environment. If your coworkers constantly fail to communicate, communicate passive aggressively, fail to listen, or communicate at inappropriate hours, it can cost you valuable time and effort.

In What Cases Can You Sue Your Employer?

Although you have certain rights as an employee that protect you from unfair treatment, suing your employer requires certain grounds, conditions, and evidence. In many cases, the human resources department or a high-level manager may be able to successfully resolve your case. Below are some instances in which you may be able to sue your employer.

Discrimination or Harassment

For cases of discrimination or harassment, you must prove that you have been discriminated against on grounds of race, gender, pregnancy, nationality, religion, age, disability, union participation, or genetic background. You must start by filing a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. 

These cases can be difficult, because if your boss bullies everyone indiscriminately, it’s difficult to prove discrimination or harassment. That’s not to say you shouldn’t speak up. Start by talking to an HR representative, high-level manager, or trusted coworker. For cases of discrimination, the help of an experienced attorney is vital.

Unpaid, Underpaid, or Deducted Wages 

For cases of unpaid, underpaid, or deducted wages, you are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets minimum wage, overtime, and minimum age requirements for employers and employees. You may be able to sue if you can prove that your rights have been violated. 

Wrongful Termination

For cases of wrongful termination, you must prove that you were fired/let go without reason, without a warning, or after you complained about mistreatment/company problems. Having a contract or written promise can be helpful evidence in pursuing this type of case. 

Personal Injury

For cases of personal injury, you can sue under certain conditions. If you are injured while working, your employer’s insurance policy should generally provide compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain endured. However, if you don’t think you’ve been adequately compensated for your injury, you can attempt to sue your employer. Evidence required may include medical bills, photos of the injury, or personal records. 


For cases of retaliation, you must prove that your employer punished you for asserting your rights by assigning you with excessive job duties, sudden schedule changes, or an unfair demotion. Your employer may retaliate against you if you report their unfair treatment, resist unwanted advances, file for disability, etc.


For cases of defamation, you must prove that your employer made a wrongful claim about you that impacted your employment opportunities, pay, or future reputation. This can include written or verbal defamation, with necessary evidence.

For additional guidance and help, you can also contact an experienced workplace harassment and personal injury attorney like the team at Cooper and Friedman PLLC. Our team has over 60 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of workers across the state of Kentucky. We’ll help you build a case, file a complaint, and pursue legal action. For additional information or to schedule a free legal consultation with a workplace harassment lawyer, call 502-459-7555 today.

Posted Under: Harassment, Personal Injury