There is a reason companies such as Google spend big money trying to make their offices a fun place to be. It is not out of the kindness of their heart. They believe happy workers produce more. By contrast, when workers feel threatened or uncomfortable at work, production can suffer.
That should encourage all employers to ensure workplaces free from harassment and discrimination. Yet, both still happen regularly, despite progress.
Harassment can lead to a hostile work environment
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) uses the term “hostile work environment” for something specific. It defines when harassment becomes unlawful. Harassment based on protected categories such as race, color or sex becomes illegal if it creates a work environment that is hostile, intimidating or abusive. It becomes a breach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Or it may be a breach of other laws such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. Or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Federal employers are responsible for their staff’s actions
A federal employer may claim it knew nothing about the harassment. If they should have known about it or did know but failed to do something about it, they would typically be responsible for their employee’s actions.
If you feel someone is creating a hostile work environment for you or others, do not be afraid to report it. Seek legal help if you are unsure of the best way to do so. Reporting harassment is in everyone’s best interests. When a federal agency fails to protect its workers from harassment, it becomes less effective. That is a waste of taxpayer’s money.