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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11469
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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3 out of 5 people complained about the behavior of my boss.

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3 out of 5 people complained about the behavior of my boss. Now they are bird-dogging me and making subtle changes in regards XXXXX XXXXX job. Also, I receive a larger To Do list than the others. Is this retaliation?

Also, is Name Calling ie "Trained Monkey" against the law?
Good morning and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am very sorry to hear about this unforutnate situation.

The subtle changes to your job you are describing certainly sound retaliatory in the sense that the changes are being made in retribution for your complaints. However, not all retaliation is legal, and retaliation in this particular instance unfortunately is not.

Taking a step back for a second, it is important to understand that employers retain a tremendous amount of discretion with regard to how they choose to run their business. There is no inherent obligation to be "fair" in the work place and, in general, employers are free to make arbirary decisions and be passive aggresive and vindictive to their employees. These are all bad managment practices, but there is no law against bad management.

There are few exceptions to this general rule and most are in the area of public policy. For example, it is illegal to treat an employee poorly for discriminatory reasons, such as the employee's race, religion, or gender. It is also illegal to take adverse employment action as a consequence of the employee engaging in certain legally protected activity, such as filing a claim for unpaid wages, workers comp, or FMLA leave.

"Retaliation" is only going to be illegal when it occurs in response to this sort of protected activity. Regretfully, the law does not protect an employee's right to complain about his or her boss, and since employers are otherwise free to make poor and unfair management decisions, there is no law against "retaliating" for complaints about the behavior of your boss

With regard to calling an employee a "trained monkey," the legality depends on context. As noted above, there is no law against bad management and no law against being rude or generally belittling employees. However, it is illegal to verbally attack an employee on the basis of a protected trait, such as race.

Calling someone a "monkey" can have a racial connotation when that term is used toward a person of African descent. Directed toward such a person, use of the phrase "trained monkey" may constitute racial harassment and thus be illegal. However, I don't think that use of that phrase toward any other ethnic group could be construed as anything other than simply "rude," implying only that the employee performs menial tasks that do not require critical thinking, and as I have stated above, it is not illegal to be rude, vindictive, or otherwise bad at management.

It is the unfortunate reality that the law strongly favors the employer in these regards. As a plaintiff's attorney who has dedicated much of my practice representing employees such as yourself, please take my word that I believe the lack of protections in this regard is frustrating and unfortunate.

However, as you are here for accurate information about the law, I have an obligation to be truthful and forthcoming about the lack of legal options under the circumstances. I trust you will appreciate my candor and explanation.

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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