A company's employee handbook might seem like boring stuff, but there's important information inside of which you need to be aware. It outlines the company's expectations of your conduct, behavior, and interactions with co-workers and supervisors. It also explains the consequences of harassment and hostility at work, which could include termination.
While it's easy to think that hostile employee behavior refers just to displays of anger towards your co-workers, there's more to it than just that. When a co-worker acts inappropriately by making discriminatory racial or sexual jokes and innuendos, he's displaying hostility and his comments could be in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. Federal laws prohibit the use of unwelcome discriminatory comments based upon a person's age, sex, gender, country of origin, disability or genetic information.
Harassment Training Policy
A law enacted on Jan. 1, 2006 in California, made harassment training a legal requirement for all supervisors and managers within six months of hire and every two years thereafter. Its purpose was to ensure people who manage staff understand what harassment entails. Many companies also include harassment training as part of your new employee orientation. The training's purpose is to demonstrate scenarios depicting inappropriate behavior and the corrective actions the company takes against them. Many companies have employees sign a paper acknowledging that they received the training.
Policies on hostile behavior are meant to prevent offensive, demeaning or belittling comments in the workplace based on race, color, national origin and religion, age, disability, sex or gender identity. Retaliation against someone who has complained of these acts is also considered hostile behavior and might be subject to the discipline procedures outlined in your handbook.
If you've been the target for someone's hostility at work, you need to file a complaint with your supervisor, human resources department or other personnel as designated in your employee handbook. Federal laws require that employers inform you of your right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most employee handbooks include the process on how to file such a complaint internally, with instructions for following up with the EEOC if you don't get a timely response from your employer.
Policies on hostile employee behavior helps employees know the consequences of behaving inappropriately. Procedures serve as a tool for managers to help them deal with the employee who demonstrates this type of attitude at work. Managers who fail to act on these types of complaints may also be subject to disciplinary measures, which typically include corrective actions that could include termination.
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center: The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s Policy Concerning Discriminatory Harassment Against Employees and Applicants for Employment
- Virginia Department of Human Resources: Equal Employment Opportunity
- Virginia Department of Human Resources: Workplace Harassment
- Virginia Department of Human Resources: Standards of Conduct
- Strategic HR ManagEase: Workplace Harassment -- Frequently Asked Questions
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.