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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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I work in an environment where the boss is constantly yelling

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I work in an environment where the boss is constantly yelling and talking down to everyone in front of everyone. They had to put me in a room far away from the shouting because it makes me shake and I have a hard time doing my work.

The owner just told me that my two co-workers were being let go and that I need to come up to speed on their responsibilities as quickly as possible in as humanly decent way as possible. He wanted me to call my supervisor (his son) to get instructions on how to accomplish that. When I called Sandeep he told me not to listen to his dad and only to worry about what he tells me and apologized for putting me in the middle.

I would just like to know my rights as a human in my company. I tried to talk to HR, but we really don't have an official HR department that can do anything about the situation. Can you tell me if I have any legal rights?
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I completely understand your concerns here. I once worked for a boss that dealt with employees in a similar fashion and it was a horrible experience, so I can relate to what you must be going through.

Regrettably, however, and contrary to what most people believe, there is no general requirement of civility in the workplace and no law that prevents employers from being rude, disrespectful or even downright nasty to their employees. 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.

The idea behind this law is that the court cannot be the arbiter of every employer/employee dispute. If every time someone was offended or raised their voice they could go to court and sue, the courts has reasoned that we would have hundreds of such lawsuits a day. This is certainly not to diminish your concerns, but rather to explain the policy behind the law, which may assist in your understanding.

So for example, if an employer repeatedly stated that "Latinos are trash" 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 as useless as trash," that would not be a violation of any law.

Of course, this does not means that you can't or shouldn't go to HR or a higher up manager and complain about this co-worker's and supervisor's unprofessional conduct, if that's an option. However, in order to have any sort of legal leverage, you will need to specifically complain of harassment that relates to one of the above protected characteristics.

I realize that the law is not entirely in your favor here and I am truly sorry to have to deliver bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

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, I would be most grateful if you would remember to provide my service a positive rating, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Very best wishes and happy holidays to you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your candid and very honest reply. I appreciate it. Does a person have rights as to what information is given out about them to other employees by the owner or other supervisor?


As an example, the owner telling me that he's letting my co-workers go and telling me who? Isn't HR information supposed to be confidential?


Thank you for your help.


Thank you very much for your reply. Unfortunately, there is no requirement of confidentiality in this respect. An employer can reveal information concerning who may be let go, despite the fact that it is very unprofessional to do so.

The only notable instance in which an employer has an obligation to maintain confidentiality is with regard to medical issues of employees.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any further concerns.

Kindest regards.
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