Reasons an employee may feel a working environment is hostile can include harsh language from a supervisor, unreasonable expectations, other employees making inappropriate jokes at the employee's expense, or direct physical and emotional harassment. The reasons may vary between employees, with most circumstances causing a feeling that the workplace is not safe or conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
Many employees experience feelings of hostility in the workplace due to interactions with supervisors and managers that take an unprofessional approach to interactions, which may range from yelling at employees and using fowl language to pressuring the employee to perform tasks that fall outside of the job description. In these cases, the employee may feel threatened by the supervisor's actions, leading to the belief that the anger could result in a demotion or the loss of the job completely.
Co-workers who make frequent inappropriate jokes or comments also create a hostile work environment. This may range from one employee making tactless comments about another person's weight to hearing numerous jokes involving racist or sexist comments. Employees may not feel safe in the workplace due to harassment or belittling from employees for aspects of their identity that do not directly relate to the work itself. Though most states do not have any specific laws prohibiting general hostility, most do prohibit discrimination for factors such as religion, gender, appearance or sexual orientation.