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Hostile Work Environment Contrary to the California Labor Law

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Palm Springs, CAMark says his supervisor is making his life "a living hell" so that he will quit—she can't justify firing him because he is good at his job. Although working in a hostile environment is contrary to the California Labor Law, Mark should be very careful before he says, "I quit", and he should get advice from a labor lawyer first.

Hostile Workplace"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."

Hostile work environment harassment is where speech or conduct is "severe or pervasive" enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment. It is primarily a legal term which describes a workplace situation where an employee cannot reasonably perform his work, due to certain behaviors by management or co-workers that are deemed hostile. A hostile work environment case comprises more than a boss being rude, yelling, or annoying. It is very specific, especially when an employee is suing an employer for either wrongful termination or for creating an environment that causes severe stress to the employee.

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.


Posted by

OK I am going thru the same thing. This one is psychopath.. Yes, she is bipolar disorder. I was thinking of quitting. I think I am sick of dealing with hostile ele environment. I have to put up with the boss and the people too. Lastly, I know I will have to resign for my health. She often confronted the issues with me.. I can't tell you how difficult it is that made me go crazy. One time in our 1:1 she is deliberately told me "If you don't like it , leave" "Do you know what I mean?"

Posted by

I worked as a temp at a (corporate) hospice organization/business before being put on permanently in August of 2014. Even before going on perm, I had two part-time jobs - one as a Church Music Director, and another as an Editor of a very active news blog in Amador County. I needed some temp jobs to "make it" (rent, bills, etc.)
I really enjoyed being a temp at this hospice company...until I realized how volatile the work environment was.
As a temp (still!)...I was publicly embarrassed by "this person" in a staff meeting. She said that I would be taking over a certain aspects of operations (which was a surprise to me until that very moment in the meeting), and I, in shock, said, "I'll do my best, but I haven't been trained." She immediately threw up her hands and stormed around the room, while the rest of the room was silent, watching her antics. She wasn't even my employer, yet she embarrassed me in front of everyone. Being the "better person", I brushed it off ("that's how she is", like in the article above).
I never forgot that day, however...believing in what hospice care was TRULY about, I put my very best energies in creating a system that would streamline the processes they so desperately needed.
I truly, TRULY did my the point that I was literally working 3 full time jobs in 1 full time job, with (of course!) overtime. This ON TOP of my music/news blog job! I literally fell into bed exhausted at the end of the day. I had no personal life. My family and friends' relationships suffered greatly. I was not happy, yet...I was working for the paycheck and overtime. I was/am putting my Veteran son through school, and I needed the extra money for his tuition.
I emailed HR and my superiors countless times about my situation, that I need help...and it fell on deaf ears every time.
Scrolling about mid-August, I had a panic/anxiety attack. It felt like a heart attack. I came to the realization that "no job is worth my health and well-being", so I finally submitted my resignation.
I was told that the CEO said that they "couldn't lose me", so they both brought me into a private meeting, and asked if I would accept a new job description if they hired on two more employees to help me. I said, "Yes, oh Lord God, thank you!", and my supervisor said, "So do you withdraw your resignation?" I said, "Yes." Everything was fine/great! So I thought...
This was all verbal. The HR rep was on vacation...
Not but a few days later, my supervisor called me into her office with the HR manager, and said, "We accept your resignation." The blood drained from my face. What happened to our verbal agreement in the CEO's office? What happened to you hiring help for me?
I was actually very generous in my terms of resignation. I didn't want to leave them high and dry. To no avail.
I trained the person replacing me (poor gal!) to my best abilities, in the short amount of time I had. She also recently quit...said that this person (supervisor) pretty much "lost it" and was yelling at the CEO. She said the entire office was walking on eggshells...
Anyhoo...crazy as I was...I actually (recently) offered to help them out, AS A TEMP, to get ready for a CHAPS survey which is upcoming, but now I'm I can't put myself through that again.
I am just so, SO sorry about the sweet Hospice nurses, the aides, the chaplains, etc. who have to endure such horrible management of this company. They don't deserve this.
I don't know what I can do, now that I'm out of there. For me, it's just good riddance. I might be poor as hell, but I'm sure happier. No panic attacks, no belittlement...
Hope this helps anyone out there...

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Posted by

I was working at facility as manager and the owner did nothing but scream, yell oe blow up non stop. I worked ten hours a day, 6 days a week for a crap salary but loved my work except for dealing with owner. Out of nowhere I was demoted from full time to 20 hours and put at min wage. I advised i could not accept and filed for unemployment. Please note no write up or warnings and this was literally out of nowhere. EDD denied claim based on Annoyance of Coworkers which does not fit any description. I explained how the owner dealt with situations and how I could not survive on the job he demoted to without any reason. Please any help would be greatly appeciated. Is it worth me Appealing the decision of EDD

Posted by

I have a question, I have been in a supervisor role with a small company for 3 years. This company has been in business for over 20 years.My job is in charge of writing policies and procedures, and inforcing them. For the last 6 mos, I have had nothing but problems from 2 other supervisors. They have been protected by the owner for 20 years. Since I have come on board, they are very disrespectful, they have told other members not to listen to me because I dont know what Im talking about.They have gone so far as to turn thier backs on in meetings. I dont strive for thier accolades but they are sending a messages to other crew members that is ok to disrespect me.
I have already made plans to leave this company. Whay should I do in the interm? Should I just take it, or should confront them abpout, or should I consult regarding this work environment? Please let me know your advice.

Posted by

I understand the stories i have read,especially the last one, i worked in a company that i spent 12yrs of my life in the company trying to do my best. I was lead for over 5yrs unable to move up. they moved in a manger from East los angles. It became really bad. I didn't speak spanish. So when you try all the chains of commands within the company you feel you have no other help. So if you have no other choice you are forced to Quit. It's to bad that could be used against you if you finally have a way to fight back.

Posted by

My mom has worked for the the County Department of Behavioral Health as a case worker for 17 years. She is Mexican-American.

About 2 years ago, the Department hired a new case worker (who was white). About six months into this new case workers employment she was supposed to drive a client to a doctors appointment for a surgical procedure that would involve anesthesia. The plan was that the new case worker would drive the client there, then because of scheduling issues, my mom would pick the client up and drive the client home. Well, the new case worker woke up late and missed the appointment. It turned out that the client just drove herself to the appointment.

When the new case worker found out what happened she talked to my mom and said that she felt bad and would like to go with my mom to to drive the clients car home. When my mom and this new case worker got there, the new case worker said she would go in and get the client and told my mom to wait in the car, which my mom said ok to.

A few minutes later the new case worker comes out and gets into my moms car and says that everything's ok and the client is going to drive herself home, and she tells my mom to just turn around and drive back. My mom said that she never talked to the client or any of the nurses and assumed that the new case worker had been told that the patient is ok to drive herself home. The patient drove home safely and nothing bad ever happened.

After my mom's supervisor found out that the patient had been allowed to drive herself home after having been on anesthesia, the management decided to do this: Send the new case worker home for 1 week without pay. Demote the employee of 17 years to a position below the new case worker and cut her pay by over $1000 per month.

My mom called me crying one day and explained that this had happened. I was a pre-law major in college and had just finished taking an Employment Law class. I told her that she need to seriously consult with an employment attorney asap. I told her that she has nothing to loose by at least telling an attorney her story to see if anything can be done. I told her to find a phone book, go to the attorney section, then find the employment attorney section, pick one and call today.

She did find an excellent employment lawyer and they filed a claim with the EEOC for racial discrimination and wrongful demotion. They had a series of meetings and hearings and in the end I believe they went to mediation and the judge found that the County did wrongfully demote my mom and ordered the County to pay her full back pay and restore her to the same position. The County offered to pay back pay and offered her a new position as Community Liaison which payed even more than her previous position.

We were so happy and thankful for the amazing work that her employment attorney had done. It made a huge difference in my moms life. One of the unexpected blessings is that as the recession hit CA funding for her old position was cut and the County had to lay off many case workers, but funding for her new position came from a new voter initiative program that was passed and that program still has very strong funding. I believe that justice was done for my mom, but she never would have got this justice if she hadn't made a firm decision to fight for it.

Posted by

I am 60 years old and worked for Lyon Management Group for almost 7 years. In October of 2009 my supervisor was laid off and was replaced with [name withheld]. In the year since she took over I am the 5th long term employee that has been forced out. The other employees had been there from 9 to 17 years. The new supervisor targeted each person and either intimidated them into resigning or fired them. She likes the younger employees and seems to have a different set of rules for them.

My problem started when I did not want to do a write up on my employee. Every employee that had been written up since she took over has been forced out. I told her I did not want to write up my employee for such a trivial matter. He had tried to have a discussion regarding a verbal warning but he found the discussion frustrating and raised his voice. So a month later she wrote him up for "insubordination" and for mailing a payment out 5 days later than we had done in the past (there were no late fees or consequences for the late mailing).

3 weeks later she wrote me up for being insubordinate (a term never used until she was made manager) because I did not agree with writing up my employee. She said if I did not sign the write up I would be fired for insubordination. I have never been fired in my entire working career so I resigned citing "The work environment has become toxic and hostile"


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