A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about hostile environment:
I recently changed the hours of my business to better suit my customers. An employee came to me and said she could not work those hours. I said if she could not work those hours I could not keep her on board that I would need to hire someone who could accommodate my customers.She filed a hostile environment claim. I did not change the hours to get her to quit, I changed them to accommodate my customers. Does this qualify for this claim?
Dear Not Hostile:
Our site addresses workplace communication, not legal or Human Resources, questions. However, a quick Internet check of how a hostile environment is defined should answer your question:
A hostile work environment is created by a boss or coworker whose actions, communication or behavior make doing your job impossible . This means that the behavior altered the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment for employees. Additionally, the behavior, actions or communication must be discriminatory in nature.
Because you changed hours to accommodate customers and no discrimination was made against anyone, you should have no worry about a charge of creating a hostile environment. But to relieve your mind, in a call to your state’s Department of Labor explain what you have written us. Also ask how you might learn what if any claim regarding a hostile environment has been made against you.
I trust you did your best to find a schedule that would suit this woman, perhaps by shortening her hours or learning if other employees could trade hours with her by working the new hours. And you made sure she was not discriminated against for any other reason.
We will share anything we learn should any of our contacts with persons with HR experience inform us otherwise. Please tell us what you learn. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. If you have other questions, please scan our site and submit them. May your business go well.–William Gorden