Ask a lawyer and get answers to your legal questions
Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?
Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.
I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I have dealt with some terrible co-workers, managers, and subordinates in my time. It’s one of the reasons I decided to become self-employed is because I just couldn't take it anymore.
Nonetheless, it’s important to analyze the law in this situation. Harassment/retaliation/discrimination is against the law; however, employment law only makes it against the law if the basis of these actions by the employer are based on your race, gender, age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or disability. Employment law doesn’t necessarily cover people who act like jerks. In some states, contract law may help if an employer doesn’t act in good faith. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, any party to any agreement (including employment agreements) has to act in good faith with one another. The failure to do so could be a breach of contract. It’s one of the possible legal solutions, but not always the most practical one.
There are some other things that I could recommend to you to help you deal with this problem now and not just in the courtroom based on my experience in working with thousands of people who have had the same issue.
Generally, I recommend that you keep documentation of everything that happened. The frequency, duration, and intensity are going to be important and it’ll make it difficult for them to deny this if you confront them. In addition, you should strongly consider what your employer says about this behavior. With the right documentation and some back up in the employee handbook or policy, it could help you solve this right away. You may want to consider having the people who are willing sign an affidavit (a sworn statement) describing what they saw and heard. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good templates (click here). I also recommend building a support network and getting people involved in the situation who may be advocates for you. They may have practical tips or ideas specific to your industry, your organization, or even your team that could be much more helpful than anything the law could provide.
The one thing that you could do is keep a lawsuit in your back pocket. What I mean by this is if the issues continue, then you may want to consider a lawsuit for intentional infliction of emotional distress. IIED means that if someone is intentionally causing severe emotional distress in another, then you may be able to recover for the damages that occurred (e.g. therapist bills, lost wages, medications, etc.). You would have to prove that you suffered damages, but employees have used this tactic when employers have done the same things yours has.
Because I value your input, I would like to know whether you have any other questions for me today that I could help you with?