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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Assisting employees and employers for over 14 years.
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My wife is routinely humiliated in front of her peers. Her

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My wife is routinely humiliated in front of her peers. Her supervisor goes though her desk. She is challenged whenever she goes to lunch to the point she eats at her desk now. Comments are made about her being too old to get another job. My wife comes home every two months crying saying she has to quit. My wife is 62 yrs old and worked as a administrative assistant to a vice president of a fortune 100 company for 20+ years when the company was bought and downsized by Blackstone. What can she do? Can you help? What help can she expect?
Welcome and thank you for your question!

I am sorry to learn of the facts you've described. Does your wife belong to a union?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No union. She works for non-profit "Boy's and Girl's Culb" in Arlington, Texas. A very good cause.

Thank you. Does the supervisor do this to other employees as well? In other words, is he like a serial workplace bully?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. She has been repraminded several times for oversteping her job description. To the point that her co-workers refuse to deal with her directly and goes through my wife. This also causes a great deal of strain in their relationship.

Thank you. What happens when your wife goes to human resources with her concerns?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There is no HR department but she is in the acting role of the HR manager.

Thank you. What happens when she discusses her concerns directly with her supervisor or her supervisor's boss?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My wife just gives in to her and agrees with whatever she says to avoid any retalations.

Thank you. What you've described is a poor style of management. It does not however, in the eyes of the courts, violate the law.

Please allow me to share with you an example.

In Joens v. John Morrell & Co., 354 F. 3d 938 (8th Circuit 2004), the plaintiff Joens testified in a deposition that supervisor Johnson came to the box shop on almost a daily basis to abusively criticize her for not making enough boxes for the cut floor. Joens alleges that Johnson constantly swore, yelled at her, and accused her of not doing anything; that Johnson singled her out for this abusive criticism even when a male employee was helping her make boxes; and that the men who made box tops during the night shift were not subject to similar criticism.  Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled, as a matter of law, that she was not subjected to an illegal hostile work environment.

Does this mean that the conduct is acceptable? Of course not. However, the law does not require good management. If an employee doesn't like the supervisor's bullying tactics, the employee is left to address the supervisor in person, go to the supervisor's boss, or look elsewhere for a job.

I know that this is not what you wanted to hear but you deserve a candid answer. I wish very much that I could offer you an answer that was more favorable to your circumstances, but the law seems to be pretty clear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

I hope you understand.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!

~~ J.B.
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