Q: Does my girlfriend have a case of employment harassment and/or retaliation?
My girlfriend just recently had her hours cut and her job threatened after she told her boss that a "manager" was unprofessional in her approach of informing my gf of a new "policy." The manager verbally abused my gf and told her if she "didn't like it she could quit." When my gf discussed this with her boss on the phone he said, "he wanted the manager to be mean and to scare her." The manager has a daughter that is upset she doesn't have as many hours since my gf started. The boss is also upset at my gf because she discovered Google searches for "escorts in Jacksonville" which turned out to be his searches. My gf was new so she informed a senior employee about the searches, unaware they were her bosses, and that employee knew the work tablets were linked to the bosses Google account. So she told the bosses brother, who this employee is dating, and it "embarrassed" my gf's boss. I feel this is all retaliation and harassment to take my gfs hours and punish her for the embarrasment.
A: There is no such thing as "a case of employment harassment" that can be made into a claim for money damages. There are certain types of legally-recognized claims in which harassment may be a related fact issue, such as in cases of unlawful discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, national origin, or disability (and some other categories), and it might also be a related fact issue if there is separation from the employer, triggering a claim for Reemployment Assistance (unemployment comp) on a theory of constructive termination (forced resignation). There is such a thing as a retaliation claim, but that kind of claim likely does not apply in the scenario you are describing, unless there are other facts that would be relevant to retaliation law. There is no legal protection from retaliation simply due to causing "embarrassment". Retaliation claims are based on retribution to an employee due to the employee pursuing certain kinds of legal relief, such as complaining about discrimination or filing a workers comp or whistleblower's claim. In any event, it's best for your girlfriend to schedule a consultation with an employment law attorney, to go over the situation in detail.
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