How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Patrick, Esq. Your Own Question
Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12027
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
Patrick, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have been forced to work with an alcoholic and have been

Customer Question

I have been forced to work with an alcoholic and have been asked to now blow the whistle on him when he drinks by my manager. it is so stressful and scary that my md has now told me to take time off for stress due to a hostile work environment. i dont know what steps to take now
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry to hear about these circumstances and am happy to help. What specific question would you like me to answer?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I need to know what my rights are and if I should seek an attorney's help. Because this is caused by my work, I believe I have to file a workman's comp claim. I don't know the process. If I should stay on disability or if I even have a choice.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Okay, thanks for the additional information. I hope that you will appreciate everything that I am going to tell you even though it is not all favorable to your position.

Many people are familiar with the term "hostile work environment" but don't know its legal context. They believe that hostility in the workplace has somehow become illegal and actionable, but generally it is not. Generally, a "hostile work environment" claim exists only when an employee is being targeted on the basis of his or her sex, gender, race, ancestry, national origin, color, sexual orientation, religion, medical disability (including HIV/AIDS diagnosis), marital status, or age (40 and over). Being put in a high-stress situation with an uncontrollable co-worker typically would not constitute grounds to bring a valid hostile work environment claim, unless you believe you are being targeted on one of the above-mentioned bases.

Further, simply having difficulty doing your job because of stress or anxiety usually will not qualify you for any kind of disability leave. The basic requirements for obtaining disability include the following:

- You must be unable to do your regular work for a certain amount of consecutive days. In California it is 8 straight days.

- You must provide written proof by a medical doctor (which includes psychiatrists), or other health care professional like a psychologist, for example, that you are not fit to work.

- Allow access to your medical records.

- Must be undergoing treatment for anxiety, stress, depression or whatever you’re claiming. This includes things like taking medication and undergoing therapy.

- There may be wage and employment requirements.

- You have to submit a disability claim application. This stuff isn’t automatic!

- You’ll have to be open to a medical evaluation by the entity you’re trying to get benefits from.

- You may be subject to an investigation, which may involve the interviewing of family, friends, and co-workers.

You should explain to your boss the difficult situation that he or she has put you in and ask for a different arrangement. Bear in mind, though, that California Labor Code Section 2922 provides: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other." Assuming that you do not have a contract that guarantees you employment for a specified term, and assuming that you are not a public sector employee, you are an "at-will" employee. As an at will employee, you are free to leave your job at any time. In exchange, your employer is free to change the requirements, promote, terminate or demote you as it sees fit and without reason--even reasons that you may perceive to be unfair.

The position your in is a difficult one, to be sure, but there is probably little that can be done in terms of taking legal action against your employer unless the alcoholic co-worker is endangering your safety in some way.

I hope that this information helps you in deciding what to do. Bear in mind that the above does not constitute legal advice, nor is any attorney-client relationship created between us.

If my answer has been helpful to you, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button directly above. I will not get credit for assisting you or receive payment for my work unless you do this. Your question will not close after you click "accept," and you will still be able to ask follow-up questions if necessary.

The only facts I know about your situation are the ones that you tell me, so please try to be specific and bear in mind that, occasionally, miscommunications will occur. I will do everything I can to clarify my answer if I have misunderstood your question. Also bear in mind that the law does not always read how we think it should. I ask that you be understanding if an opinion I have provided is not consistent with what you wanted to hear.

Finally, the information that I have provided is not legal advice. I am not acting as your attorney and my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. I encourage you to consult with a local attorney in regard to legal matters.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
If I have not adequately answered your question, I am happy to provide additional clarification. Otherwise, I would greatly appreciate it if you would click "Accept" so that I get paid for my time. Thanks so much.