Career Readiness

How to Handle a Hostile Work Environment

One of the reasons many people run to self-employment is due to hostile work environments. Before you can handle a hostile environment, you must identify the source. Below are different sources for hostile work environments.


  1. Favoritism
  2. Prejudice
  3. Discrimination
  4. Gossip
  5. Division
  6. Incompatibility
  7. Miscommunication
  8. Mismanagement
  9. Lack of Vision
  10. Non-Work Related Situations


Authority figure who gives a specific person or a group of people special privileges or permission or benefits.


Authority figure who makes decisions based on personal perception not facts.


Authority figure who denies a specific person or a group of people privileges or permission or benefits.


Any person or group of people who spread false or true defamatory comments about someone or a group of people who were unaware or did not give consent.


Any person who disagrees with a group think mentality.


Conflict in personalities, goals, or methodology clashes among a two or more people.


Any one who misinterprets what someone else said.


Authority figure who misuses or abuse power to demean a subordinate or group of subordinates.

Lack of Vision

Without a vision people lack direction or understanding of expectations, which will result in decreased productivity and increased frustration.

Any one who verbally or physically abuse others due to suffering from non-work related situations (i.e., death of significant other, abuse, financial hardship, etc.).


  1. Read the Employee Handbook
  2. Obtain Organizational Chart
  3. Keep A Paper Trail
  4. Present Evidence
  5. Be Respectful
  6. Exit Plan

Read the Employee Handbook

The company or employee handbook will provide you with the company’s procedures and protocols for various situations. Also, you may have a Union handbook which is useful for understanding your employee rights and how to handle labor relations issues.

Obtain Organizational Chart

Know your chain of command and their contact information. If the person you are filing a complaint against is your direct supervisor, refer to the company handbook or union handbook or contact a Human Resource Representative for assistance.

Keep A Paper Trail

Like employers who want to terminate an employee, KEEP A PAPER TRAIL. You must have proof of incidents before presenting them to the proper authorities. Your journal entries and emails should include dates, locations, times, what happened, and who was involved. Always print your emails and store them somewhere safe because emails can disappear with the help of an Information Technology expert.

Present Evidence

If you have to present your facts to a superior, Union representative, or Human Resources Representative (preferably Labor Relations Officer), keep it simple. Prior to the meeting organize the events in chronological order and provide a two to three sentence synopsis per event. You do not want to overwhelm them. FOR UNION EMPLOYEES, read your union handbook to know your rights to have a “Steward” or designated union representative present at any disciplinary or related meetings with the employer (e.g. Human Resources representative, supervisor, or other superiors).

Be Respectful

Make sure you remain calm, cool, and collected during any meetings. Also, respect everyone in the meeting(s) including the offender. You do not want to appear as a hostile individual.

Exit Plan

In case your superior decides to retaliate have an exit plan in the works. Do not quit your job until you have a job. You want to work where you are celebrated not where you are tolerated.

If you have been fired and you believe it was unlawful / unethical, feel free to contact your local civil rights commission for assistance.

If you need any additional advice or assistance, feel free to contact me, Career Readiness Coach, Tish Pope by clicking here.

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