"My supervisor is supposed to be supportive," says Mark (not his real name pending a lawsuit). "Instead, she ignores me or is downright vulgar. She is the office manager and supervises 3 of us: she treats the others well and is helpful to them but if I ask for assistance, it's like I'm asking for her first-born." Mark also adds that his co-workers and supervisor are considerably younger.
"I've been working at this company for 20 years but I just started working with this supervisor about 18 months ago and she was hostile towards me right from the beginning," Mark explains. "I'd heard from a lot of people that she was a 'handful' and one co-worker said she put notches on the leg of a wooden desk for people she got rid of—those she didn't like. She made sure the boss thought they were unsatisfactory.
I've talked to other people in the office about her behavior but they have more or less advised me to brush it off, saying 'it is just her way'. They are sympathetic but can't offer any other advice. How can you brush off "f…ing idiot and f…ing moron' and 'he's stupid" that she has said to my co-workers about me. I have brought this up with my boss several times until I am blue in the face. But they are close personal friends so my boss is siding with her. I also talked with HR at headquarters a few months ago—I asked them to investigate but they have never gotten back to me.
It got to the point that I couldn't physically work here anymore and last December I saw my doctor because I was having anxiety and panic attacks. He advised me to not return to work and seek psychological counseling. Since that time I have talked to my boss twice about the California state labor law pertaining to this issue and my doctor's reports but nobody has called from management to inquire about my health. My co-workers have asked when I'm coming back--I just don't know.
I'm in therapy now, which I have never done in my life, and it seems to be helping. But my psychiatrist and psychologist both said, 'Have you thought about getting a job somewhere else?' That's easier said than done at this stage.
I'm 53 with no college education so leaving this company and looking for another job is pretty scary, especially given this economy. I've worked hard since I was 16 and have never collected unemployment or welfare. I can't even go back and do what I did when I was first hired at headquarters because when I was hired for my position college was not required--it is now. My back is pretty much against the wall.
But I did file a California labor employment law complaint regarding this hostile work environment, not only for me but I know many others are in the same situation and afraid to speak out. They have to eat and pay the rent—they are afraid of retaliation. I think my supervisor is mean by nature and I am her scapegoat; I think she needs more therapy than I do.
Right now I'm collecting disability from the company but not sure how long I can do that for because at this point I am living hand to mouth. Thank God I have savings but that is going fast. In a perfect world, I would like to get lost wages for pain and suffering. I don't care if she apologizes because it wouldn't be genuine. I don't know what to do next—I've never needed a lawyer in my life, but I do now."
READ MORE CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW LEGAL NEWS
If you quit your job, you allow your employer legal arguments to make against you that could harm your legal position or even destroy your potential case, even though a hostile work environment is contrary to the California labor law. A California labor lawyer's advice can help reduce the risk of harm to your case. Ask yourself why your employer (or supervisor in Mark's case) is trying to force you to quit, put everything in writing, and your answer may help you and your lawyer resolve your labor law case.