Policies on Hostile Employee Behavior

What character traits define a hostile employee? They are workers whose behavior or communication makes it impossible for other employees to perform their duties comfortably. Such actions interfere with the conditions, reasonable expectations and terms of a conducive working environment. Understanding the various policies curtailing hostile behavior helps you identify when your actions are bordering on the same. It increases your awareness and provides concrete legal backing when reporting someone for hostile tendencies.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC prohibits discriminatory behavior at the workplace whether of a sexual, racial, gender or religious nature. Sexual discriminatory behavior includes the sending of nude images, explicit jokes as well as sexual insults, all of which can cause a hostile work environment. Under this policy, employees who verbally castigate others based on their religion, race, age or gender could also be culpable of hostility. This could be the case if you have issued a prior warning to the guilty persons but they have not heeded it.

Harassment training policies

In some organizations, it is procedural for new employees to undergo harassment training sessions that endeavor to enlighten them on what constitutes various types of harassment. You will also be oriented on what actions are taken by the company in the event of a complaint. If you work in California, as of January 2006, these training sessions are mandatory for all managers and supervisors six months after being hired in a new job. It is thereafter conducted after every two years. In certain cases, employees sign a form indicating that they have undertaken the training.

Complaint policies

In addition to federal laws, company handbooks provide modalities for registering complaints about hostile employee behavior. The modalities cover topics such as your first port of call when reporting the complaint, as well as the modes of registering the complaint, whether verbally or by sending an email. As is decreed by federal regulations, your boss should enlighten you on your right to register a hostile employee complaint with EEOC and how to go about doing the same; this is necessary in case your employer does not provide a timely response to your complaint.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Enacted in 2008, GINA deals with the protection of employees from unfair treatment based on differences in their DNA, which makes them susceptible to certain diseases. Examples of workers protected under this regulation include those at risk of diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, as well as cancer. Majorly affected are health insurers who are forbidden from discriminating against their clients based on their genetic information when providing insurance coverage. Various states have also enacted different laws that govern hostile workplace behavior from a genetic context.


Being put in an unpleasant workplace, having a bad boss, rude comments from co-workers as well as lack of perks or privileges may seem like tenets of hostile work environment, but they are not. Certain legal criteria – as defined by various policies – outline actions, which constitute hostile employee behavior. These actions can demoralize others and create a negative image of the company, especially when no action is taken.

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