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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17269
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 28 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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Im currently employed in a job. The owners of my job have

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I'm currently employed in a job. The owner's of my job have asked me to quit my job for varying reasons ranging from using a personal day to making a Facebook post on a day that I wasn't working (I didn't make the facebook post - the post was on the companies facebook page and was made by the person working that day. They called me first and asked me to quit before even talking to the person on duty.)

Half a year ago they hired two of their workers from other stores they own to come in and check on me. One of these workers they admitted to me was already fired once for being late and having an after hour party in the office. I have since been told he was also fired for stealing and using drugs.

The person who was fired and rehired came in the other week and went off on me. He told me that he was the only reason why I still had a job. That he could tell my boss to fire me and just hire a new person. And that I should just quit if I'm upset. At this point I tell him that he is thinking too highly of himself and that if he didn't want my help doing his job that I would just chill in the office. The person then spent another 15 minutes yelling at me from the other room but, I didn't really care to listen to everything that he said.

I reported this incident with my boss. My boss said that he would talk to the guy about what had happened but, the guy had no right to say anything like that to me. The guy had no power to fire me or even suggest firing me.

After a week goes by of me calling my boss to see if he talked to the person he finally answers the phone they day before I have to work with the person. My boss says that he talked to the guy that day and that the guy would have a different attitude when he came in.

I said that was ok and that I would give the guy a third chance but, if his attitude was the same as it was the past two weeks that I feel grossly uncomfortable working with him and that I would rather not work with him.

My boss ranted for a few minutes and then finally said that he can tell me who to work with whenever he wants. No matter what the person has done or how it made me feel. And that even if his behavior doesn't change I would still have to be working with the guy.

I told my boss that I feel that the guy is creating a hostile work environment with the way he acts and the things that he says. That I would like a meeting with all of us so we could talk it out before I worked with him next.

To that my boss told me that he would just have me not work that day (reducing 8 of my hours per week) if that were the case.

There are multiple other things that my boss/coworkers have done to me and I have already sent multiple emails regarding the hostile environment where they are essentially setting me up to be fired or to have to quit. Some of these would include: not allowing me off for natural disasters where the roads are shut down, not allowing me off for Jewish holidays, I was told to work through my lunch break and have been repeatedly verbally reprimanded for getting food during my 8 hour shift, there has been constant flooding because of a leak in the wall and there is mold in one of the rooms and it makes me feel sick all the time - I have asked for months to get it fixed and nothing has happened.

With all that being said and more that I have not said - I feel that they are still trying to have me fired or for me to quit. If they fire me or force me to quit would I have a legal case against them? Would I be able to get unemployment?

Thanks a lot for your time!
Steven
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 11 months ago.
Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Can you tell me if you feel that you are being targeted because of your religion for this treatment you consider harassing in nature, or because of your gender, race, national origin, age (over 40), disability, pregnancy or AIDS/hiv status?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I don't know why they are targeting me. I have worked at the job for over three and a half years and have not gotten a single write up in that time.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
This is her response to my question:

"Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Can you tell me if you feel that you are being targeted because of your religion for this treatment you consider harassing in nature, or because of your gender, race, national origin, age (over 40), disability, pregnancy or AIDS/hiv status?"
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 11 months ago.
Hello again and thank you for your reply. I asked that question, because "hostile work environment" is actually a legal term of art that only applies in cases of unlawful discrimination based on the reasons I asked about. In other words, there is no legally actionable harassment in the workplace outside of the discrimination arena. So, unless you are being targeted for one of those reasons, although it would be unprofessional and unacceptable, as well as poor management, it would not be illegal. That means that your employer would technically not have to stop it and you would not have any basis for a law suit. Again, not fair or good management, but the law.

That leads to the issue of termination. First, no one can make you quit your job. If they want to let you go, that is their prerogative, but they can't tell you that you have to quit. Maryland, like most states, though is an employment "at will" state. That means that an employer may terminate an employee for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning unless the termination would violate an employment contract, company policy, or employment discrimination law (like what I discussed above.) So, unless your employer has a rule about having to issue a certain number of warnings before termination, or you believe you are being terminated because of the reasons I identified above, your employer could let you go even if the reason is unfair and misguided. Again, the law favors employers.

If you believe that you are being targeted because of the reasons I mentioned above, then you can file a complaint with the EEOC and would want to speak to a local employment law attorney about the possibility of filing suit.

As for unemployment, if you quit, then you have a much harder, if not impossible, chance at getting benefits. That is because you will have to prove that you quit for "good cause" attributable to the employer. That is very hard to do and basically would require that you show that were breaking the law. If they cut your hours drastically though, that might be good cause. On the other hand, if you wait and they terminate you, then you have a much better chance, since it is the employer that carries the burden of proof to show that you intentionally, or through gross negligence, violated a company policy, standard, etc. It sounds like they could not do so and therefore, you would be eligible for unemployment.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Just before this reduction in 8 hours they tried to reduce 12 hours. So that would be 20 hours a week. They don't even have me working full time right now so that is over half my pay. What constitutes drastic cut in hours?

Also, asking me to work through lunch breaks has no weight in anything? As well as not fixing things that I would consider health hazards since most people in my family are allergic to mold.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 11 months ago.

Hello again and thank you for the follow up questions. If your hours are permanently cut by 50%, then that would be good cause to quit your job. However, in Maryland, employees who have their hours cut are eligible to apply for partial unemployment benefits. So, that would be the better way to go. In other words, keeping your job and then making the employer pay for unemployment if they cut your hours. That way, you are not having to prove that you quit for good cause, and also still have a job, which pays more than unemployment does.

Maryland law does not require that employers give employees meal breaks. However, if the employer does set aside a meal break and doesn't pay the employee for that time, then the employee is entitled to be completely relieved of duties. So, if you are not getting paid for the time you work through lunch and you are an hourly employee, then you would have a wage claim you could file with the State for the times you worked through lunch.

As for the other issue if you think there is a workplace hazard, you need to report that to OSHA and they will come and investigate.

Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 17269
Experience: Licensed Attorney with 28 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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