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3 Types of Coworkers That Make Up a Hostile Work Environment

There are always certain kinds of people who make up hostile work environments. Whether or not you’re already working in a hostile environment, watch out for the kinds of people who are likely to make other coworkers feel uncomfortable. If you’re a supervisor, learn the typical types of people who tend to be a part of hostile harassment in order to prevent the harassment.

People Who Openly Discuss Prejudices

Everyone grows up with different cultural backgrounds and biases, but we also live in an era where discrimination is no longer common place or socially acceptable. People who discuss prejudiced ideas regarding race, religion, gender, sexuality, disabilities, or other protected categories should be discouraged from acting or speaking on those prejudices. While there are certainly still prejudices that are prevalent in our society, it’s also illegal to act on these prejudices, especially at work. When prejudices are acted upon, it becomes discrimination. When someone is discriminated against in the workplace, it becomes a hostile work environment.

Inappropriate Jokers

People like to laugh, and they like people who can make them laugh. However, there’s a fine line between jokes that are appropriate for the workplace and jokes that are not. The problem is that sometimes people write jokes off as if they don’t matter, but sometimes the wrong kind of jokes can make for a hostile work environment. Jokes that relate to any protected category should not be made in the workplace. While one joke may not be enough to be considered a severe instance of workplace harassment, jokes that are made continually over a period of time may qualify as persistent or pervasive workplace harassment. Additionally, sexually suggestive jokes are forms of sexual harassment and should not be tolerated. The best way to handle all types of inappropriate jokes is by choosing not to laugh at them and discouraging others from laughing as well.

Quid Pro Quo Supervisors

One major form of sexual harassment is coercive control harassment, otherwise known as “quid pro quo” harassment. Quid pro quo literally means “this for that.” This kind of harassment is characterized by a person of authority requesting sexual favors of someone in an inferior work position by promising incentives, job promotions, or any other job-related form of “payment.” This kind of harassment is severe. Quid pro quo harassment does not have to be sexual in nature, however, although we often think of it being as such. Other forms of requests could be for information or illegal acts. These types of supervisors are some of the worst kinds of people you could work with because they are difficult to spot in public situations. Quid pro quo interactions tend to happen just between two individuals.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015