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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 a training session I was beginning to facilitate, and during

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In a training session I was beginning to facilitate, and during my icebreaker a manager (not mine) spoke in an assertive tone "Excuse me can we just get on with it." I said "OK, and you are?" " I am xxxxxxx Manager of the call center.. It's been 15 min and we haven't started into the business." It was very condescending, discrediting, disrespectful, and intensensely embarrassing in front if everyone else, and since then I have been severely emotionally distressed. Does this constitute workplace incivility and if so, what are my options. I am diagnosed with depression and this event is having a profound impact on me emotionally. Thanks in advance for your responses.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am terribly sorry to hear you were treated in such an unprofessional manner and completely understand your concerns.

Regrettably, and contrary to what most people believe, there is no requirement of civility in the workplace and no law that prevents employers or co-workers from being rude or even downright nasty. This behavior is only prohibited 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. In that case, the law does recognize a claim for "hostile work environment."

So for example, if an employer repeatedly screamed that "[Ethnic minority] employees are stupid" that would be illegal harassment because it is attacking an employee on the basis of their race. But if the employer simply screamed at an employee "You're stupid!" that would not be a violation of any law, despite being highly unprofessional.

To put this all another way, bullying and harassment is only illegal if it relates to a "protected trait," such as race or religion. General rudeness in the workplace such as what you have described, while extremely unproffesional, will not constitute violation of any state or federal law unless you can link it to one of the protected traits described above. You have not indicated any facts to suggest that it does.

Thus, this is a rather unfortunate circumstance where your sole recourse will be with human resources and/or this manager's superiors. The good news is that most companies are intolerant of disrespect at any level and would appreciate knowing if their managers are behaving in such an unprofessional manner. Obviously, making a complaint with HR or your manager's manager will not entitle you to any unique job protection, damages, or guarantee a result, but I am telling you from practical experience that a tactfully worded and non-accusatory letter describing your feelings toward this manager and what happened may yield some positive change for you. In any event, it is the extent of the recourse available to an employee in your circumstance, though I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX could tell you otherwise.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
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