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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19221
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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Is it legal for an employer to use tactics such as personal

Customer Question

Is it legal for an employer to use tactics such as personal insults, degrading talk, and intentional aggravation of an employee in order to frustrate them to the point where they will quit their job?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

You can attempt to make a case that to get unemployment based on the treatment, but it is not illegal to try to get someone to quit unless you have an employment contract guaranteeing you that job. Then it would be breach of contract.

However, what you most likely have here is an "at will" job and so the only thing you can do is complain to the employer, in writing, that continued treatment of this sort will force you to quit.

If you have written warnings to the employer and give them a chance to cure, then if you are ultimately forced to quit you can still file for unemployment as though you were terminated (called constructive termination).

If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I am an "at will" employee and have worked here since 2011. When does the abuse become harassment? Is this a civil issue? My employer previously used these tactics to try to force me to resign back in January when I had applied for a transfer. They threatening me with a "Personal Improvement Plan" letter saying that I had areas to improve or would face termination and that I was ineligible for the transfer. I complained to the company HR department that the assessment of me was incorrect and they recanted the letter and told me to rip my copy up. I was then granted the transfer request and sold my home, bought a new home and moved across the state, 60 days into the transfer I was approached by a new manager that told me I had 3 weeks to increase my sales performance or be terminated. He did this in an abusive manner and a few days later presented me with another "Performance Improvement Plan" letter giving me 90 days until termination. This has created an environment of hostility and anxiety. The manager in question told me that I should get a lawyer if I thought the treatment was improper, and currently the HR department has told me to report to a different manager while the "investigate" the issue. However I feel as if they are not investigating anything, but just stalling and doing nothing. Meanwhile, under the stress and anxiety I am unable to perform my job properly since I am in direct contact with the customer and cannot get over the anxiety and stress of the situation to perform effectively.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Our laws don't recognize "harassment" as a civil claim in employment law.

The Supreme Court stated that our employment laws are not a civility code, so unless you can specifically allege that the only reason you are being treated this way is your race, religion, gender, age, disability or recent FMLA use, then the behavior you are mentioned would never become a civil legal matter in employment law.

It would only become a tort if you were actually physically harmed.

I'm sorry, but what you are describing so far is office politics, which is not something that courts get involved in.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
an employer can berate , demean and insult an employee to the point that they become physically and mentally effected as long as it is not regarding race, religion, gender, age, etc? Is there nothing to help an employee that is bullied by their employer?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

No, there is not presently any law against workplace bullying, unless directed at one of those factors I mentioned.

However, I did state that at the point you are physically harmed, it could become a tort issue (personal injury). If you can prove physical manifestation of emotional distress, you could both file a worker's compensation claim and an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

Those are not employment law concepts though...but rather, personal injury.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Okay. Onto another problem with this job. I am a field employee and have pay of $600 per week before deductions. After deductions I receive $417 weekly. That pay is called a "non-reimbursable expense payment" . I am supposed to use that money to cover the expenses of using my personal vehicle for work purposes and maintain a home office, fully equipped. When I was hired in 2011 I was told that the average commission I would be earning would be $30,000-$40,000 a year. That has never happened. In 2014 I had my best year and earned $50,861 gross, last year was $40,272 I routinely work more than 40 hours in a week, and my employer is aware of this. Last year I had expenses of over $20,000, this year should be similar. Taking into account the extra time I put in over 40, I am not earning minimum wage. Is this legal for them to do?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Expenses aren't take into consideration when you are talking about minimum wage requirements.

If they paid you enough that your income divided by your hours is more than minimum wage, they are legally fine.

You can deduct expenses from your taxes.

I gave a very brief response to this, because this is really an entirely different legal question and should have been started in its own thread and for its own sum. You get one question and reasonable follows ups pertaining to that one legal issue by JA policy.

I won't address any other legal questions unrelated to the original issue in this thread.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required after the response I previously provided to you. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.