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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11626
Experience:  JD, MBA
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Nepotism in the Workplace

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I work for a company that began as a startup and now has 300+ employees. When I first started, everything seemed fine. Now, 6 months in, I'm starting to notice my boss, the top salesperson and girlfriend of the CEO, is berating and belittling my coworkers and myself more frequently. She has become so bad that I have left work with panic attacks and increased anxiety several times over the past few weeks. In addition, we share an office and her boyfriend (the CEO) comes in and kisses her, whispers inappropriate things in her ear, etc.) in front of me, this makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, but I know if I say anything they will make my job much more difficult. In a company of 300 employees, 74 left the company last year because of how miserable the work environment is. The company is largely comprised of friends and family of the owners, who are ill-qualified to do their jobs. The worst part is, few people stand up and do anything for fear of losing their jobs. HR is not even able to enforce regular rules - no PDA in the work environment, no drinking at on-site work events. I was even made fun of for taking a moment of silence on Good Friday because I'm a Catholic and that is a day of sorrow for us (despite the fact that she is supposedly Catholic too). I'm planning on leaving the company anyway because I cannot handle how she treats people, however, there are many people there who I have come to care for and I hate to think of them stuck there with her tyranny "running" the company and using the CEO as a mere puppet.

Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

I'm sorry to hear about the situation. Do you have a specific legal question? How can I help you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I would like to know if I have any grounds to pursue legal action against the company, ie. hostile work environment, duress, etc. The CEO, is permitting his mistress-turned-girlfriend to run the company from his back pocket and she treats people like garbage.

Hi again.

The general rule is that an employer may treat her employees just about any way she chooses. The employees' have the option of quitting. The law does not generally get involved in matter like how employees should be treated because those matters are considered legitimate business decisions, and the market will eventually take care of the situation because the employees will quit.

However, although that is the general rule, there are exceptions for situations in which the employer's poor treatment of the employees is based upon factors such as race, religion, gender, age, and disability. You mentioned some poor treatment that relates to those factors. For example, the fact that you were made fun of on Good Friday, and possibly any inappropriate sexual comments. Those remarks likely would make for a hostile work environment, and would be considered illegal discrimination.

Generally speaking, the first step in dealing with illegal discrimination is to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for investigating illegal discrimination in the workplace. Once the EEOC investigates, it could agree that illegal discrimination took place, and attempt to work out a settlement with the employer. If the EEOC cannot work out a settlement, or if the EEOC does not find that there was illegal discrimination, then a person can request a right to sue letter, which gives her the right to sue her employer for violating the law. The EEOC's website, located HERE, explains how to file a charge.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

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