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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5619
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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My Director and I got into a disagreement over the timing

Customer Question

my Director and I got into a disagreement over the timing of my vacation days. (Ironically this happened just after I received a stellar review and was told that I needed to use my vacation time because I lost 2 weeks the previous year for not using them which he said made him look bad) Well, my director told me he could not trust me and that he was stripping me of all my responsibilities, He had my "office" moved into a vacant lab in the basement of his building and assigned me approximately an hours worth of work to do in a month. After a month of staring at the wall in what I described as "solitary confinement" I resigned. It was either that or have a coronary. apparently he had gone to HR to have me terminated and was told he could not because all I did was take time off(maybe not using the proper procedure). Do I have any legal rights, it seems to me I was forced into resigning by making my life miserable. Please advise.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 2 years ago.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is John. I have over 13 years of legal and consulting experience in this area. I’m happy to assist you with your question today. I'm sorry to hear about your job loss.
There unfortunately does not appear to be any legal recourse in your case. Personal conflicts not based on a protected interest have no recourse.The term "hostile work environment" comes to us from the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a very specific term. Though it certainly sounds like it would apply in your situation, the high court required another ingredient beyond the types of things you are talking about here.
Hostile work environment is illegal harassment (ingredient 1) which is based on your race, religion, gender, age, disability or FMLA use (ingredient 2). Without that second factor, there can be no hostile work environment. This is because the Supreme Court stated that our employment laws are not meant to be a civility code, but are only meant to deal with illegal discrimination. Note that a miscommunication or misue use in regard to vacation is not one these protected factors.
I do note that you feel this is a form of discrimination, but the list that I have outlined are the forms of discrimination that are actually illegal. Race, religion, gender, age, disability or FMLA use. Treating people differently based on vacation usage violation, while discrimination, is not illegal discrimination because there is no statute that makes it illegal.
Now, some states have considered passing workplace dignity laws that might apply in situations where the harassment in generalized and not specifically directed at or based on a discriminatory factor like race or age. Unfortunately, no state has managed to pass such a law at this time.
I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Funny that you mention FMLA. The reason for me taking the time off was a sick child. My director called a meeting withe me, him, our department HR rep and my EAP rep. I specifically asked if I could use FMLA to care for my child or at least use it to adjust my hours. My Director said" No, that is for insurance issues" which obviously raised eyebrows. It was later determined that I could use FMLA to adjust hours if needed but I chose to work a later shift to avoid using FMLA. probably not what is needed to proceed but I justthought I'd throw it out there
Expert:  John replied 2 years ago.
Is there any indication, suspicion or anything (beyond a general feeling or hunch) to indicate that your placement into "solitary" was because of the FMLA leave request? If yes please explain.
Expert:  John replied 2 years ago.
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