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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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In California Can your boss/employer lie to you and punish

Resolved Question:

You will get a tip for your time I know this is long but please help.


 


In California Can your boss/employer lie to you and punish you for anything?


 


My boss hates me, it's 5 pages of a story so just trust me when i say that. We have had arguements when he wasnt my boss, then he got promoted to a boss, then i got hostily moved under him, because him and his boss are buddies.


 


Anyway.


When i was hired 5 years ago. I was given an astro van, which holds u in an upright position, i told my old boss, no problems, he got me a mini van, well that vehicle ran out and the normal procedure use to be we picked out from a choice of 2 or 3 options of vehicles.


 


I ordered the one i wanted to fit my needs, but it was taken before i got it even and i was put into a ford transit, which sigh, agagain is messing with my back and left leg.


 


So, Our fleet admin was on the lookout for me and gave me a different vehicle because the vecihcle i was in was hurting my lower back and causing left leg numbness.


 


Well my boss gets all butthurt over it and starts making up dumb lies why I can't have it, and another exact tech same job title as me has one just like it.


 


I told him i have back problems and this one is better. They keep lying saying oh i need a truck with a ladder or a ladder rack possibility when NONE OF US DO !


 


Its a bunch of made up BS lies.


 


So they made me change trucks back, even after telling them of my medical conditions and today my back is putting me down, and i have 2 under 2 year olds to tend too.


 


In the emails, it seems they are both admiting the real reason is personal. They say oh its not personal.


 


(direct quote from email: "I can understand your concern, but this is not personal. This is about following the chain of command and following directions. We'll see you tomorrow at 7AM start.")


 


So it's a punishement? cause i thought they kept telling me it was about other made up things they said.


 


(direct quote from email: "Unfortunately, the vehicle that was given to you was pre-assigned to another technician and the assigning supervisor was bypassed for authorization hence creating the situation that we are in. Again, we locate an appropriate vehicle for you to use as soon as one becomes available.")


 


But I was already in an accomadating vehicle for the last 3 weeks, I have worked 5 years and completed over 3000 jobs with everything needed. and like i said other techs of same job title have this truck


 


They just dont want me to have it. And intentionally inflicting stress and pain on me now.


 


Does this sound legal? Should I waste my time with HR ? They will just pick at me other ways more if i do that.

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am so sorry to hear about the behavior of your boss. Indeed it sounds quite immature and unprofessional.

Regrettably, however, and contrary to what most people believe, there is no requirement of civility in the workplace and no law that prevents employers from being rude or even downright nasty to their employees. Rude or unfair behavior only constitutes legally actionable harassment if it relates to an employee's race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation.

So, unfortunately your boss taking your vehicle away without justification and otherwise treating you in a disrespectful manner would not be illegal unless the motivation for such treatment was one of the protected characteristics stated above. This is true no matter how egregious and unprofessional your boss's conduct becomes.

I am so very sorry to deliver this news to you, as I realize this is not what you were hoping to hear. If it is any consolation, I believe the law is unfair in this respect and that employer should be held to a basic standard of fairness int he workplace. Of course, you are here not because you want an opinion on what the law should be, you are here because you want to know what the law actually is in this instance. Accordingly, I hope you will appreciate my honest response to your question.

My absolute greatest concern is that you are satisfied with the answer I provide, so please do not hesitate to contact me with follow-up questions. Also, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

well,

i was really more concerned about the infliction of physical pain being caused by their personal vendeta

the truck I had, reclines the chair chevy coloroda king cab

the truck they give me now makes me sit upright and doesnt recline

the point being, I was accomidated with the colorodo, and they took it back to "teach me a lesson" for not listening, is what i get out of those emails, I just didnt realize I was at daycare and could be given punishments in the workplace, especially those that inflict physical pain

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

and isn't that really a fine line?

yes i know i've been through this before, employer can pretty much be a jerk and so forth

but it could be construed as a hostile work enviroment? which is against the law?

it's also a billion dollar company, with other techs of the same title as me, have the coloroda? this means nothing? everyone has to be treated the same?

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your replies. Unfortunately, there is a very specific legal definition for what constitutes actonable "harassment." As noted above, harassment is only actionable if the basis for it is an employee's race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation.

It is worth noting that one of the "protected characterstics" cited above is physical disability. However, what constitutes a "disability" is very narrow.

Generally speaking an employee is only "disabled" and entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act if their condition "impairs a major life function." This is not an easy standard to meet, and back pain, unless it is extremely debilitating, typically does not satisfy the threshold.

Assuming that one's back pain does not constitute a "disability" under the law, their employer is free to deny them a particular vehicle, even if the employer's actions result in pain for the employee.

Please understand that I am only telling you what the law provides for in this instance. I recognize that the law in this circumstance produces a very unfair result, and I am truly sorry for that.

If you have any additional concerns or questions regarding this matter, please let me know and I will be very happy to assist you further.

Kindest regards.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

sorry I don't mean to usually ask so many questions, try not to abuse the system

I understand what you're saying, i just want to be 90% sure where i stand as it dictates how the my tone will be in my HR email

Please can you just clarify these for me:

There are still company policy to be followed? making it law ...i mean doesn't it say that if the company has a policy handbook in place it has to be followed or they can get civil fines and punitve award??

Do the fact that this is happening at our place of work, exempt them from a civil suit, outside of work, for what they are doing at work?

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you again for your reply. Do not worry at all about your followup questions. My goal is that you are completely satisfied with my answer and explanation of the law. I am a little bit unclear as to what you are asking, but I will do my best to address your concerns.

"i mean doesn't it say that if the company has a policy handbook in place it has to be followed or they can get civil fines and punitve award??"

A compay handbook does not bind the employer to a particular course of conduct. Employers are free to change the terms of employment at any time, and simply because the handbook says that the employer will provide employees with XYZ does not impose a legal obligation upon them to do so.

For example, if a company handbook says "all employees will have a company vehicle Chevy Tahoe" and then one employee is denied that vehicle, no violation of the law has occurred and the employee would have no legal basis to sue their employer for failing to provide that vehicle.

Employers' tremendous freedom in this regard stems from Labor Code section 2922, which provides that employment in the state of California is "at will," absent an agreement to the contrary. Courts have interpreted this to mean that, since an employer retains discretion to terminate employees for no reason, he or she also retains the authority to dictate the terms of employment and change them at any time.

"Do the fact that this is happening at our place of work, exempt them from a civil suit, outside of work, for what they are doing at work?"

There would be no law suit on the facts you have described unless your physical condition constituted a "disability" (impaired a "major life function) or implicated your race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

so then this is pursuable? what is your "opinioniated hypothesis" on % of chance to win

Having prior knowledge of my "medical condition" being told this is going to cause me physical pain, because i have a medical condition and doing it anyway? I went to the dr today because of anxiety attacks she says is what I'm experiencing and i've never had until they started this a few weeks ago.

I've been putting up with little things for 2 years now, but this to me is just over the line, and I simply cannot take it emotionally either. I really do appreciate your time and now it was for a good cuase, im not just a disgruntled employee, my 2 bosses are way out of line.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks again for your response. I agree that your bosses sound out of line.

However, the circumstance you describe would only be actionable if your condition qualified as a disability as defined by the Americans Disabilities Act. Even then, your employer must be informed of your disability via medical documentation and would only be in violation of the law if, after being informed, he or she still failed to provide a reaosnable accommodation.

For more information on what constitutes a qualifying disability, visit this link: http://www.ada.gov/qandaeng.htm

In short, your conerns sound completely legitimate. I have had bad bosses in the past and I can completely relate. However, the legal remedies available to an employee in your circumstance are extremely limited, if any even exist.

Again, I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7650
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Patrick, Esq.
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