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Brandon, Esq.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Category: 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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I have experienced harrassment at work (shoes stolen,shoes

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I have experienced harrassment at work (shoes stolen,shoes thrown,personal water bottle contaminated and now beverage contaminated with sputum). These occurred on separate occasions over 4 years (all under different managers). Events were reported but no measures were taken by insitution to provide a more secure (safe) work environment. I had recommended security cameras be installed,however, to no avail. To say that I am emotionally distraught and severely stressed by this is an understatement. I would like some legal direction please.

Employment-LawExpert :

Hello and thank you for your question today. Are you online with me?

Customer:

yes

Employment-LawExpert :

I am terribly sorry. The website kicked me out of the chat.

Employment-LawExpert :

Are you still with me?

Employment-LawExpert :

I need to know a little more about the harassment you have experienced in order to properly assist you.

Employment-LawExpert :

Hello and welcome back to the chat

Employment-LawExpert :

Why do you believe that you are being treated this way?

Employment-LawExpert :

Do you believe it could be because of your race, gender, religion, etc.?

Employment-LawExpert :

Can you tell me more about this?

Customer:

Hi,am here.

Employment-LawExpert :

Welcome to the chat

Customer:

I don't believe it is discrimination-based.

Employment-LawExpert :

Do you think it is just because they do not like you?

Employment-LawExpert :

The reason I am asking is that there are two main legal concerns here

Employment-LawExpert :

The first, is the illegality of discriminating against you because of public policy or discriminating against you because of a protected class.

Employment-LawExpert :

The second is engaging in what is known as IIED (Intentional infliction of emotional distress)

Employment-LawExpert :

While you likely have a claim for the second, this would be against the individual and would not the company itself.

Customer:

I would like to find out who the person is ( I saved to sputum, as disgusting as that sounds).I feel that the institution has failed to provide a safe work environment, turning a deaf ear to my complaints.

Customer:

I feel that had I been one of higher standing (eg CEO,Director etc) perhaps there would have been results.However, I am not.

Employment-LawExpert :

Well, I have good news and bad news concerning this situation. The good news is that there is absolutely something you can do about this. You would simply need to make a complaint to hr (or your supervisor or boss) stating that you feel that you feel that you are being discriminated against because of your age (over 40), gender, race, religion, genetic information, pregnancy, national origin, creed, or disability. This would force HR to launch an investigation in this matter to avoid a lawsuit, and the defense of having to defend one.

Employment-LawExpert :

The bad news, is that courts have made it very clear that they will not be the arbiters of general claims of harassment or unfairness that is not premised on a protected trait such as race or religion, reasoning that if workplace unfiarness/harassment could form the basis for legal action, we would see thousands of such lawsuits every day.

Employment-LawExpert :

This is certainly not to diminish your concerns or complaints, but rather to explain the policy behind the law, which may assist with your understanding.

Customer:

I had sent an email to Employee Relations and cc'd both managers,addressing this matter as Misconduct/Harrassment.So how do I categorize my feeling of dismissal ? I feel my position (i.e.disposable staff with no monetary impact ) is a factor.

Employment-LawExpert :

You need to find a protected category that could best suit you. You do not have to prove it, just make it a possibility.

Employment-LawExpert :

Then, your complaint would state:

Employment-LawExpert :

"formal complaint of racial discrimination"

Employment-LawExpert :

or whatever protected category you felt comfortable putting.

Employment-LawExpert :

Your company would then be required to take this complaint of harassment seriously, where they had previously not.

Customer:

Which is actually possible now that I think about it. Possibly even gender,being female.

Employment-LawExpert :

You can put multiple claims if you would like.

Employment-LawExpert :

But you need to put a protected category in the complaint if you want to be protected.

Employment-LawExpert :

So, it could read "Formal complaint of sexual discrimination"

Employment-LawExpert :

and then you would outline the charges of harassment, i.e. that they were spitting in your beverages, etc.

Employment-LawExpert :

You would want this in writing.

Employment-LawExpert :

You could put it in an email or in a certified letter sent with return receipt.

Customer:

Does the company not have a legal responsibility to investigate the incident?

Employment-LawExpert :

So, the way it works is, if you make a complaint of a protected category, the EEOC and DFEH can launch a full investigation into the company requiring the company to hire an attorney and defend the claim (which costs you nothing). So, while they do not have a legal responsibility to do so, they almost always do because otherwise it will cost them a significant amount of money to defend the claim (tens of thousands of dollars)

Customer:

They even state it in their institutional corporate compliance by-laws that a hostile work environment will not be tolerated.

Customer:

Ok, I understand.

Employment-LawExpert :

Does that fully answer your question?

Employment-LawExpert :

Please do not hesitate to ask any follow up questions you have.

Customer:

Yes.I still have concerns

Employment-LawExpert :

Please ask

Customer:

I have strong suspicions that it was sputum I found in my juice (this is repulsive),but don't know for a fact unless it is examined by a lab. How will this be considered?

Employment-LawExpert :

So, there are a few issues here. First, if you knew who it was, then you could have a claim against that individual for IIED. However, to have this claim, you would have to prove that this caused you "severe" emotional distress. You could also technically have a destruction of property claim, but the damages would be the cost of the water. The bigger issue of this is that if you can point to a protected category, it would definitively show that harassment was occuring.

Employment-LawExpert :

The only issue then would be why the harassment was occuring.

Employment-LawExpert :

But, the biggest problem is that you do not know who has done this to you. Making a claim very difficult to prove without an admission or a witness.

Customer:

I wish I knew who the person was, but it was unwitnessed.there is a miniscule part of me that wonders what if I am wrong? what if it's bacteria from the juice (which i doubt)

Employment-LawExpert :

That could definitely be a concern, however, there are other issues here. Your shoes have been stolen, your shoes have been thrown, and there have likely been other incidences too

Customer:

Yes, it has been a stressful 4 years. I didn"t feel like i should have to find another job due to the environment. I have doubted myself even,asking myself if i'm paranoid.

Employment-LawExpert :

Do you think its possible that someone did not steel your shoes?

Employment-LawExpert :

If it was an isolated incident, then I would say anything is possible. But, if there are multiple incidences, then it suggests a pattern of behavior.

Customer:

Yes, the first incident they stole it.The second time they were thrown on top of a machine

Customer:

So, it sounds like i should pursue this.

Employment-LawExpert :

If you feel that you are being harassed, then you should absolutely make a complaint.

Employment-LawExpert :

But as I am not in your situation, I cannot tell you definitively what to do.

Customer:

Ok, I think i need to stay strong because it won't be easy.It's a well-known medical institution.

Employment-LawExpert :

The good news is that in making a complaint, your job is protected from "retaliation." Thus, if any adverse employment action happens as a result of your complaint, then you would have a much larger cause of action against the medical institution.

Customer:

Yes, that's true.

Employment-LawExpert :

But my thoughts are definitely with you and I hope the harassment stops immediately upon making the complaint.

Customer:

Thank you so much,your advice is invaluable.

Employment-LawExpert :

I am glad that I could get you pointed in the right direction.

Employment-LawExpert :

Before you go, please do not forget to provide a positive rating so that I am not reprimanded for the original rating I received. Again, I cannot apologize enough for the initial technical error we experienced. And remember, if you have any additional questions regarding anything we have talked about, please do not hesitate to ask.

Customer:

Absolutely, my apologies for the premature rating. 10 stars! Thank you again so much!

Employment-LawExpert :

Not a problem. Have a wonderful rest of your day.

Customer:

You too,have a great evening

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