The Mental Health Consequences of a Hostile Work Environment

By: JML Law | October 26, 2022.
The Mental Health Consequences of a Hostile Work Environment

No one should have to worry about facing harassment or bullying in the workplace. Both California law and federal law prohibit hostile work environments to ensure workers have the right to work in environments where they feel reasonably safe and comfortable.

Unfortunately, hostile work environments persist across a range of industries. Working in one can take a serious toll on your mental health in such ways as the following:

General Stress & Anxiety

You spend a large amount of your time at work. If you’re being subject to bullying, bigotry, sexual harassment, or any other such form of mistreatment at a place where you spend most of your days, naturally, you’ll frequently find yourself in an anxious state.

This can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Although some people assume work is meant to be stressful, that’s not necessarily the case. When work stress is causing major anxiety and hardship, and the cause of said stress is a hostile work environment, the problem is unacceptable.


Hostile work environments come in many forms. Often, they involve sexual harassment.

This is a serious violation of a person’s rights. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for people who’ve been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition which can plague them for years.

Money Stress

Some people decide they can no longer comfortably work in hostile environments. They make the choice to quit their jobs even when they don’t have employment prospects elsewhere yet.

This is an understandable response. If someone has reported a problem to HR but nothing has been done to address their concerns, they may need to remove themselves from a toxic situation to guard against future mental health problems.

However, leaving a job when you don’t have another one lined up can result in financial difficulties. The stress one experiences as they try to pay their bills while looking for another job can be an indirect but nevertheless very real mental health consequence of working in a hostile environment.

Lack of Sleep

Knowing that one has to head to an unpleasant work environment in the morning can prevent them from sleeping well. Additionally, sometimes the mistreatment one experiences in a hostile work environment is so severe that it causes a victim to experience nightmares.

Sleep plays a critical role in a person’s health. Everything from their cardiovascular system to their immune system could theoretically suffer if they lost sleep due to working in an environment where they were frequently harassed.

How to Address a Hostile Work Environment

Reporting a hostile work environment to HR is always a wise step. At the very least, it helps to document that your concerns are serious.

That said, HR might not remedy the problem in a satisfactory manner. This doesn’t mean you need to endure the mental health struggles you’re facing as a result of work stress.

Instead, review your case with a lawyer. At JML Law, a Los Angeles hostile work environment attorney can determine if you have grounds to take legal action against your employer. Learn more by contacting us online or calling us at 818-610-8800.

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