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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 102496
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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This question or questions concern an abusive director of a

Customer Question

This question or questions concern an abusive director of a county transportation agency
who is politically appointed. A driver in this system, was doing a veterans route out of
county. His usual route on the return trip was detoured. He got lost and ended up crossing the Gothals Bridge that led to Statan Island, New York. He was able to turn around and get back into New Jersey and get back on the Parkway. The director accuses him of being off route, which there is no route plan given by this system from the office, and was trying to take disciplinary action, such as suspension. Human Resources took no action and the issue closed. However, since this incident, the director, removed him from his route. That afternoon, in the parking lot, the director and a route supervisor/driver over another issue. The route supervisor lunged at the
driver and felt that he was going to be assaulted. The director got in between the two.
However, she within inches of the driver continued to aggressively argue with the driver.
She had a cigarette and appeared to start to discard it in the direction of the driver, but through it to the side. There was another incident where the driver was talking to a scheduller about his route and the director comes along, slaps her hands in his face, telling him to get out of the office...he wasn't allowed to speak to the office staff. Is there a law that constitutes a threat of physical harm if someone is in your space aggressively arguing \, make hand jesters? Is this a hostile, bullying working environment?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. Please tell me:

1) Did the supervisor ever actually lay hands on the driver?

2) Is the driver still employed with the company?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, the supervisor never touched the driver. However, was within inches of his body or in his space as was the route supervisor before her. In the office, when the driver, on another day or so after this incident, was asking a routing question of a scheduler and the director happened by and told him not to talk to the office staff and clapped her hands together in his face, telling him to leave. Since these incidents, he has been denied overtime....and there have been other picky harassment of this driver. The driver is still employed. The entire workforce in this department are working in a hostile environment. Would you at least say this is a hostile, bullying work environment?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.


On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

Employees have lots of rights. For example, protection against discrimination. Safe working conditions. Certain break times. Etc. However, there is no right to avoid employers being "mean" to you. So unless they are actually throwing things at you, physically harming you, etc, then they can be mean, or passive aggressive, etc. They can yell at you. They can criticize you and admonish you for things that you did right. They can fire you at any time. Actually, the only reasons one cannot be fired/demoted are for are:

-PUBLIC POLICY (discrimination based on race, religion, creed, etc; or, a retaliatory termination due to a claim made by an employee); or
-CONTRACT POLICY (if one has a contract that disallows such a termination)
-COVENANT OF GOOD FAITH (firing an employee to avoid paying a benefit, for example)

Otherwise, an employer can terminate for any reason, without notice. It can be based on a mistaken rumor, or, just the fact that they do not like your shoes one day. You will hear "right to work" a lot. However, that does not mean what people think it means. All this means is that at time of being employed, the employee has a choice whether or not to join a union as a condition of employment.

So yes, this is a hostile work environment, arguably. But that is not something you can sue over. There is no protection from employers being bullies. The only way that this hostile environment affects your rights is that if you quit, then you can still get unemployment if you show that no reasonable person could have worked in such an environment.

Also, I assume this has nothing to do with race, gender, etc. If it does, reply and let me know - that may change my answer.

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