Claremont, CA asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for California

Q: Is it discrimination or hostile work environment and how should I proceed?

Sister works asst prop mgr for mgmt co. Loved job. Prop sold & she kept on for history keep books orderly/reports timely. New co purchase them now has mgmt group w/own employees who are related & new employees who "fit" mold young/impolite & scantily clad. Sis 64 years old, professnl & they seem to hate her. Moved her out of an office into lobby & took away books. Title is Bookkeeper but no longer keeps books. Week before Easter asst mgr "Debbie, since you have no children or family can you work Easter so rest of us can enjoy holiday?" Sis said, "I can't believe you just asked me that. I feel discriminated against." One empl won't even look @ sis when speak to her. Visiting EEOC LA (property in Rancho CA) Mon..thought to pose question here. EEOC seems to deal w/discr & not so much hostile work enviro. How to proceed?

1 Lawyer Answer
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If your sister can prove she is being pushed out of her job because of her age over 40 years old or some other protected classification of persons, she would have a meritorious legal claim. However the Easter comment discloses no apparent unlawful discrimination, just insensitivity.

It is a common misunderstanding that the term hostile work environment describes unlawful conduct by the employer. Not so. Most workplace environments with hostility, anger, and other unpleasant surroundings are not unlawful. A hostile work environment is only unlawful if the hostility created because of the person's membership in a protected class of people. If your sister faces hostility simply because she is part of the old company and the new company people do not like her because of that, there is really nothing she can do legally about the situation.

If your sister believes she might have a legal claim, it would be wise for her to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore her facts and determine her options. I would suggest she look either on this site, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning your sister can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for her. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep her from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

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