What Rights Does an Employee Have in a Hostile Work Environment?

Rights that employees have in a hostile work environment include the right to be treated equally despite their sex, race, gender, religion or national origin. Employees also have a right to issue complaints to the superiors. Additionally, employees have the right not to fear retaliation measures, such as demotion and termination, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Features of a hostile work environment include unwanted physical contact, offensive sexual discussions, racial jokes and using sexually offensive language. Additionally, using indecent gestures, offensive comments on physical attributes, displaying racially offending pictures and sabotaging a person's work also create a hostile working environment. Supervisors, customers, co-workers and other people a victim interacts with contribute to a hostile work environment. Denying promotion, trading sexual favors for promotions and preferential treatment are unlawful in the workplace, says United States Department of Labor.

There are two types of unlawful harassment in the workplace: "this for that" harassment and hostile work environment harassment. To prove hostile work environment harassment, a person has to prove that the offensive conduct surpasses normal workplace problems. The government requires employers to investigate and act on harassment cases promptly. The complainant has a right to privacy. It is best to deal with harassment by taking remedial action before harassment rises to pervasive levels that violate the law, according to the United States Department of Labor.