Northridge, CA asked in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law and Sexual Harassment for California

Q: Do I have a case if my old boss forcefully interrogated every employee to talk about what they think of me?

I sent my boss an email about the hostile environment she was creating. I told her my concerns, but she attacked me and said I was judging her. I also sent a separate email to my coworkers, after quitting, informing them about the situation and asking them if I was the only one that felt this way. My boss interrogated each employee, forcefully, regarding the email I sent to them. She asked each employee to tell her what they thought of me, and followed by speaking negative about me.

3 Lawyer Answers
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No. You do not have a case because your boss asked all of the other employees questions about you. The employer is allowed to do that.

It is important for you to know for the future that there is nothing unlawful about a boss creating a work environment filled with hostility. The term hostile work environment has a specific legal meaning and such an environment is unlawful only if the hostility is toward you because you are a member of a protected class of people. General hostility, anger, bullying, rudeness, and the like are not unlawful.

Good luck to you.

William John Light
William John Light
Answered
  • Riverside, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Not yet. If your employer retaliates against you based upon complaints of a hostile environment predicated upon your position in a protected class (age, race, gender, nationality, disability, etc.), then you have a case. Employers are allowed to investigate charges of a hostile work environment by questioning your fellow employees. That conduct is not, by itself, wrongful.

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Cannot really determine and both Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Light are correct. The issue is not what the employer did, but why the employer harassed you. An employer can "harass" you for sleeping on the job, or being late, or stealing office supplies. None of those are improper or illegal harassments. But if they are harassing you because of a disability or age or race, that is illegal and you may have a case. Same goes for writing the other employees.

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