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Brandon, Esq.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1953
Experience:  Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
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how long can an employer place you on paid administrative leave

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how long can an employer place you on paid administrative leave after you file a claim of bullying/mobbing/hostile work environment on the job?

After making a hostile work environment claim with your employer, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you as a result of that complaint. Retaliation is defined as any adverse employment action. Unfortunately, an employer is allowed to force employees to take a mandatory leave of absence as long as they have a legitimate business interest to do so. This could be while they finish their investigation into your complaint, or it could be because having you in the workplace during the investigation can be disruptive. As long as the leave is paid leave, however, it is unlikely that you would succeed on a claim for retaliation. It is likely best to just enjoy the paid vacation you have been granted. However, if the leave lasts for a number of months, (at least 4) and you believe your absence could have a negative impact on any possible promotion you could receive, then you definitely can file a complaint with the EEOC or DFEH for retaliation. The more time that has passed, the more likely you would be in succeeding on your claim.

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.

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Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Brandon, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you for your reply -- they have made me go through occ health for clearance after my doctor said I would be placed on stress leave if I had to stay in that condition. I have been placed on leave but told not to speak to anyone-- it has been 4 weeks. Occ health has cleared me to work any other place. People are now texting and calling and rumors are abound about my sudden disappearance. They now want me to meet in 2 more weeks to discuss my being "accommodated" through ADA-- because of the stress. My Dr said this is OSHA not ADA since the stress I was under was temporary and secondary to a hostile environment. I am feeling anxious over this as I've not done anything wrong but they seem to be retaliating on me :(

This sounds slightly different than normal paid administrative leave. If you are not cleared to work at your old job, then this would actually be leave granted to you under the FMLA or CFRA. This leave grants you 12 weeks of leave (paid or unpaid) wherein the employer cannot retaliate against you and must have your job (or a similar job) waiting for you upon your return.

As for this being OSHA, OSHA protects people from unsafe working conditions. The types of conditions are those which could lead to a worker being seriously killed or harmed at work. More about OSHA can be found here:

From what you have said, nothing which has occured appears to fall under OSHA. However, the ADA protects people from being discriminated against as a result of a disability. A disability is something that severely effects one of your major life functions. Stress can lead to a disability and ultimately be covered under the ADA. Under this situation, your employer is required to provide you with a reasonable accomodation so that you may continue to do the essential functions of your job.

So, if you can go back to doing your original job, then there is no reason they are doing this, and it could be seen as discrimination based on your disability. However, if you cannot return or are not cleared to go back to your original job, then you would have to see if you could do that job with a reasonable accomodation. The time limit in this situation would be 12 weeks.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for clearing up the OSHA misunderstanding. That makes sense. Basically, my doctor said I can do my job, their occ health doc said I can do my job, they just say that I have to be moved because the workplace they had me in was unsafe for me. So, they have asked me to file for accommodation in order to be moved back to my original location. I know it is tricky, but basically, they are wanting me to stay on leave even though my doctor and their doctors have all said I would not be under this stress if moved out of this situational environment. It sounds to me like you might agree that they might be able to keep me off work even though I am cleared by my doctor and their doctor to work. They just have the condition that I can't work in that unit (I work at a hospital as a RN). So confusing. I am sorry for this further ?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have been out on administrative leave (paid) for several weeks since filing a claim against a group of women who were bullying me. They are 2x my age and were harassing me in a mob fashion. About 5 months ago I took on a second job within my same organization. My company owns the majority of the specialty units in the entire county. I was being brought in to this tiny sub unit that they were purchasing within another hospital that was running independently of us. They needed us to handle the patients in this smaller facility who had very challenging medical issues. We are the specialists so we came in as a joint business venture. I am the person who came in with the most experience. I knew all of the computer systems (I am a former programmer for computers/web development) and I also know all of the policy and procedural issues with our company. I was brought on board to help with the transition and make it happen smoothly. When I entered into the picture I came with excellent references and a reputation of steel. Now I am a wreck and I am hanging on for my dignity and any reputation I can salvage. Within a few days (during orientation in fact) I realized that this was a mistake and that I didn’t “fit in” there. But, being the person I am, I decided to see it through and hang in there. I have a strong work ethic and I didn’t want to just give up. Within the first few days I was singled out by a group of 3-4 women who viewed me as a threat. All of these women were 20 years older than me and very insecure about their own role in the company. I had been there for years and they are new to us (we hired them when we came in the hospital). They were viewing me with angst because I came in on their turf and they were threatened that I was after their jobs. They made my life a living hell—literally. Also, these women had worked together at the other hospital for years and knew each other. That is why they had set up the perfect storm to take me out. They immediately started singling me out and it was insidious. It started slow, and picked up with vengeance. The abuse came so bad that I became a victim of “mobbing” (just like a true mob it is characterized by a group of people ganging up on their victim and attacking fearlessly). The women had each other and they weren’t afraid of anything. My boss had been bullied in the past by one of the women and never stood up to her so all of them knew that they could certainly bully me with no repercussions. First it started with the snickers and being laughed at and whispers behind my back. Then it went on to being confronted over stupid things and yelled/screamed at. From there they ignored me and treated me like I had leprosy. They wouldn’t stand in an elevator with me or get close to me for fear of “catching something” from me. I was treated like I was sub-human. I was denied meal and rest breaks, and I couldn’t use the toilet. They held me prisoner on the job in a sphere of isolation and there was no way out. I was working 12 hour shifts with little to no respite and then I was driving 2 hours commute daily. Before long, I wasn’t sleeping because I was waking up with night terrors. I was having these horrible dreams in which I was waking up in sweats and panic. I was living in sheer terror. I couldn’t sleep or function. All of my quality of life was ruined. I had no time with my kids because I was obsessive about the situation at work. I was constantly reminiscing about what was happening on the job and my family was suffering. Nobody could handle it--I had to stop talking of it. Before long, I was completely worn out and shut down. I wasn’t sleeping any days of my life (7 out of 7 days—for 2-3 months) and finally my mind and body broke down.I escalated this to my manager for months and months (via text/phone and in person complaints) and had little to no help from her. The more she did nothing the more trapped I felt. I couldn’t come home and talk about it, and at work I was living in isolation and trapped. Before long I started doubting my own self-worth and ability to do my job. I was a mess. I finally went to a therapist. That therapist sent me to a doctor. The doctor immediately put me out of work on stress leave. I would not be returning to that environment until they could make it safe for me. In the meantime I had to escalate over my boss to her boss and then that flagged in the Human Resources Department. I was treated as a common criminal who was “crazy” and making everything up. My 5 years of a wonderful job was being flushed down the toilet and I saw no way out. I truly hit rock bottom. I had used up all of my sick leave and I had to go back to work but I was afraid of working. I was afraid of being forced to be dehumanized and humiliated. I need to find a lawyer I fear. I have been out 4 wks admin leave. They have made me get cleared through occ health and I was cleared to work anywhere but that location. They are still refusing to have me work saying they are investigating. They are only investigating me it seems. I just want to work - they are keeping me off the job and I am the victim of the mobbing. I was afraid of being attacked at my car. I was living afraid 24/7 and couldn’t turn off the loop in my mind. I was living in terror.The women never hit me, but did everything BUT that. I knew it was just a matter of time before they did act out in violence on me. I lost it one day after being publicly treated like I had leprosy. I broke down in tears to my boss and she sent me home. I thought I would be transferred back to my old unit, but instead they started acting like I was “crazy” and needed me to be seen by their doctors/nurses at the hospital. Because I am a Union Represented nurse they can’t fire me without cause—they were trying to set me up to be insane I think??? Who knows! I did see their representatives at Occ health an They recommended to them that I be transferred out of there ASAP. But, here I wait… 4 weeks off the job and I am still waiting for them to decide what to do with me. I am not the only one they have abused.I also can’t just go work somewhere else because my company owns the entire group of specialty units in the county. I would have to move out of my home of 15 years and go find work somewhere else to get out of here.I can’t imagine ever returning to the unit that put me through this much hell. I have to wait for them to make their decision. My doctor, my therapist, and their doctors all have emphatically stated that I should NEVER go back to that situation. That it is neither healthy nor safe for me. But, my hospital holds all of the power in this situation. And here I wait on the sidelines with my entire life on the line. They can decide my life—my future. And I wait.

I think I may need to find a lawyer to help me. I have only been singled out more since I escalated this up to HR and my bosses boss. I don’t want to deal with this abuse any longer. I am finally sleeping again and can see the light of day again. I am finding myself now that I have been off work--but I need to get back to work and doing what I love I haven't done anything wrong. Is there any legal help out there in these cases?
First, let me say that I am terribly sorry to hear that you are in this situation. It is a shame when such terrible things happen to good people.

Concerning your questions, if you are cleared to work by all doctors, then you would be allowed to go back to your original position. However, if you would like to transfer, then it is possible that they are asking you to fill out an accomodation request in order to facilitate that. That being said, you have to be careful of two things. The first, is admitting that you cannot perform the essential functions of your job. The second is allowing them to put you on leave for more than 180 days. If this happens, you may loose your ability to file a complaint with the EEOC or DFEH for harassment.

As for getting an attorney, if you decide to hire an attorney, a great resource is This is a nationwide directory that is useful in finding highly qualified legal specialists in various fields of law. The lawyers in Martindale are not selected because they paid to be included, but rather because they have been rated by other attorneys as qualified experts in their field. Consider consulting with two or three different attorneys prior to selecting the one you feel most comfortable with.

As for there being legal help out there, if you can show that this bullying behavior is as a result of a protected category
such as your age (40 or older), gender, race, religion, genetic information, pregnancy, national origin, creed, or disability then you would have a claim. If not, then the only time when general bullying becomes actionable is when it becomes so pervasive as to cause severe emotional distress. In that instance, you could bring a cause of action against the individuals who are making your life a living hell.
Brandon, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you