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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 34884
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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Customer Question

I have a boss who is a bully. I've worked for the company for almost 14 years. There is no communication between her and I anymore. I can't ask a question without getting a belligerent answer. It's tough because she sits right behind be. Everyone knows she kind of a nut. No one wants to have any interaction with her. I'm the 3rd assistant she's had in 5 years, I've lasted the longest. I was written up 2 months ago because "I took on too much work" but so far know one has taken any of that work off my desk. She's embarrassed me in front of others, and attacked me personally. My immediate boss doesn't have the time to deal with this and frankly everyone is afraid of her. Our HR Director is out on sick leave. The situation is bleak, I've developed high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, vision problems.....I get panic attacks every morning. Is there anything I can do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good morning,

I'm sorry to hear of the situation.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that if they are not treated well at work, or if they are gossiped about or berated by fellow employees or their boss, that as a consequence they are being subjected to a Hostile Work Environment and have a viable legal claim as a result. Actually, that is not the case.

The US Supreme Court has held that harassment and hostile environment laws were not meant to create a code of civility within the workplace. The phrase “Hostile work environment" is legal terminology, and relates to discrimination which is federally prohibited—race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. Absent proof that the hostility you complain of relates to one of the prohibited acts of discrimination, then I’m afraid that you have little solid ground to stand on with regard to legal redress.

Under CA law, unless you can show that the harassment you are receiving is related to your race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law, then I'm afraid that your only recourse for dealing with this bully is through your company. The law does not provide a remedy in this instance---I'm sorry.

I wish you the best in 2012.

I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation, nor was it what I sensed you were hoping to hear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

Thanks Again,


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