If you are an employee in California, it is important to understand your rights. One of your most basic rights as a worker is to work in a non-hostile work environment. Having a hostile work environment can negatively affect you in many ways: it can cause you a great deal of emotional grief, and can even prevent you from high achievement in your career. If you happen to be a victim of a hostile work environment in California, you may be entitled to compensation. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment which leads to a hostile work environment is illegal.
Of course, it is vital to understand what a “hostile work environment” actually is. If you happen to have constant disagreements with your coworker for a variety of reasons, that is not a hostile work environment. In order for these laws to take effect, you need to be a member of a protected class (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc) and the harassment needs to be “pervasive” in nature. Again, if your foul-mouthed coworker makes a negative comment, that does not say much about him/her, but that’s not indicative of a hostile work environment.
A hostile work environment is where negative attitudes toward your protective class are entrenched in the company to the point where it is hindering your ability to work and achieve productively. So if you believe that you have been denied a promotion because you are a woman, or because you are homosexual, or due to the color of your skin, then that is indicative of a hostile work environment.