Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
What can you tell me about your case? Also, what state are you in?
I'm sorry to hear that.
"Hostile work environment" is legal term of art. It doesn't just mean that the workplace was unpleasant. Other than peddling Herbalife, what was she doing? Are you a member of traditionally marginalized group?
Legally, a hostile work environment means that she was sexually harassing you, making sexually inappropriate comments, making racist comments, or allowing other employees to do so. Was there anything like that going on?
If she made those comments to you directly, that could qualify as a hostile work environment. In these types of lawsuits, the judge is looking for an ongoing pattern of behavior. Your male co-worker could have a sexual harassment claim, depending on what she said and did, but that's separate. To win this type of case, you have to be able to show that she made working for her unbearable because of your gender and the comments she made/allowed others to make.
You absolutely have a case for the $400 she withheld from your paycheck. Under Illinois law, if you have to go through the state to get your money back, she'll have to pay them a $250 administrative fee. You can tell her that, if you want to see if it will help you get the money faster. Here is a form and instructions for seeking reimbursement.
And if she forced you to write false documents, report it. Report it to her supervisor if she has one, the owner if she doesn't, and if she owns the company, you can talk to the other people who work there. If the false documents amount to fraud, you can notify the police and ask them to investigate.
Do you have any other questions about this?