Manorville, NY asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for New York

Q: I’m a 66 year old woman I have been harassed verbally abused humiliated and threatened at work for 15 months now. I

couldn’t take it anymore so I quit on Friday. Can I bring a lawsuit against my employer?

1 Lawyer Answer
V Jonas Urba
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  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Licensed in New York

A: You have offered two protected classes to which you belong. There may be many more. The two are your gender, female, and your age over 40. Was the harassment suffered because of your gender or your age? Remember that there are many more such as disability or perceived disability. If you were ill or caring for others who are ill or needed time off for illnesses and were mocked or ridiculed or disparately treated because of illness that would potentially be a claim of hostile environment. Also remember that under federal law, your hostile workplace, if it was a hostile workplace would need to be severe or pervasive. One example of that because of illness might be jokes about how frequently you are ill or attending doctors' appointments.

But let's stick to the classes you mentioned. Were you repeatedly asked when you planned to retire or mocked for being your age or kidded about because of your age? How were you hostilely treated because you are older? What facts might support that? Or alternatively how were you treated less well because you are a woman and maybe men were treated better.

Discriminatory harassment relates to one or more protected classes of employees who you belong to or are associated with. You have provided no examples of the specific details of the exact comments which were made, by managers or supervisors preferably, which related to protected classes. Simply being mean or nasty is not necessarily creating a hostile workplace. The laws will not make workplaces pleasant or friendly. But they will address unlawful or discriminatory behavior. This is why employment lawyers ask many, many questions and invests hundreds of hours in a single, meritorious claim with a plausible theory of recovery. A guess or hunch will not do. That's why you may need to speak with several or more employment lawyers who inquire about details. The potential clients who have taken notes or have witnesses or maybe recorded some conversations sometimes have stronger claims. How well do you recall the precise comments or behaviors of your own supervisors? How is your memory of the actions or behaviors of those you worked with? Did you ever complain although that is no longer required it helps?

Call some employment lawyers so you have a better understanding of the work that goes into all of these types of claims on behalf of you and your potential legal counsel. These are never easy, slam dunk claims but those with good facts are why we do this work. Make sure you keep looking for work and secure unemployment benefits. If you decide not to do so then any potential recovery is unlikely to be worth the effort. Mitigation of damages is a key component of these claims. It's why persons who bow out from the workplace are rarely our clients.

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