Federal Hostile Workplace Complaints on The Rise

There is no law that says every employee has to be happy with their job (though that sure would be nice, wouldn't it?) -- but that doesn't mean unfair or outright illegal treatment at work should be tolerated by any employee.

You would think that, of all places, Capitol Hill would respect the local and federal laws that protect employees from a hostile work environment. However, a report from the Congress's Office of Compliance shows that just such complaints are rapidly increasing.

In 2010, 168 federal employees filed a complaint against their employers; and in 2011, that number jumped to 196 employees reporting a hostile workplace.

Government positions are certainly very stressful work environments where employees hold many responsibilities. They have a lot to account for and the high-anxiety workplace could result in contentious relationships between an employee and their uperior. But this could happen in any workplace -- and just because the nature of a job is stressful or high-pressure, doesn't give anyone the right to subject an employee to harassment or discrimination.

Some of the examples from Capitol Hill are quite damning. One employee, a disabled veteran hired through the Wounded Warrior Project, wrote a resignation letter that said she would "rather be at war in Afghanistan" than stay in the office and deal with the hostile work environment created by her boss.

Regardless of what sector or industry you work in, there is one constant -- you have rights as an employee that protect you from unfair treatment in the workplace. The rules may change slightly from industry to industry, but the basics are the same. A violation of these rights could earn the disparaged employee compensation or an improved severance package, should the victim seek civil action.

Source: Washington Times, "Report: Hostile work environment complaints up on Capitol Hill," Susan Crabtree, Oct. 18, 2012