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Sometimes terminology is used in our culture that gets adopted and used, but it isn't being used correctly. “Hostile Work Environment” is one of those terms you hear, but it may or may not be true to the legal definition. That’s right, when it comes to this term; we have laws about hostile work environments and with the law comes a legal definition. It’s good to know the difference, because depending on what you are really talking about, your potential actions could be very different. To quote About.com: “A hostile work environment is created by a boss or co-worker whose actions, communication, or behavior makes doing your job impossible. This means that the behavior altered the terms, conditions, and/or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment… and must be discriminatory in nature. (Discriminatory would be about age, religion, gender, or race.) The behavior must last over time and must be severe.” As you can see this is a very specific set of behaviors that protect our right to work. There can be legal ramifications because someone has made working and prospering at work impossible, if this issue is not handled properly by the employer. Since we are clear about the true, legal meaning of “Hostile Work Environment,” let’s look at what's taking place when your work situation may or may not be aligned to this technical term, but it’s bad nonetheless. What can you do in either situation?

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