If you, as an employee, instigate what turns out to be a hostile work environment, it is possible that you could be in serious trouble for breaking a workplace harassment law… and, innocently, you had no idea that you did that.By definition, harassment in the workplace is an act that leads to an environment that has become hostile. That is a rather general term, and perhaps that is why so many people do not realize how much trouble they could get into by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Of course, there are some people who know exactly what they are doing, mean to start trouble and should have the book thrown at them.This article mainly concerns those who mean well, and want to stay out of trouble; be a good coworker and do the right thing. You might have a good friend outside of work, or at work, who’s of a different religion or ethnic background, who you kid around with, both ways, about such differences.That would be between you two; try that at work with someone else and you could lose your job. It’s common sense but a lot of people just do not get it, even if they’re well-meaning.This applies to many areas, or differences among us, in addition to race and religion: well, actually just about anything. Someone’s physical appearance, the way they dress, their sexuality; seriously, even the sports team they root for. You could be asking for trouble with overt, overbearing displays of racial and religious pride, or gay rights.Keep in mind that your company’s implementation of any workplace harassment law, as annoying as it might seem is meant to keep peace in the working neighborhood. Just keep your nose clean, and if one of your coworkers has a big one, and you can’t resist letting them know, make sure you know them well. Then whisper it!Having trouble on the job with a bullying boss? The Undercover Lawyer may be able to help. Check it out here.