Hostile Work Environment Definition

Desperate Housewife Sues Abusive Boss For Hostile Work Environment

She's Suing Her Boss

Former “Desperate Housewives” star Nicollette Sheridan filed a lawsuit against the show’s producer, Marc Cherry. Sheridan’s suit accuses Cherry of
    “creating a hostile work environment on the set and behaving aggressively and abusively toward the cast and the writers.”

She claims that her character was killed off in retaliation for resisting his abuse, and she seeks $20 million in compensation.

Three Hostile Bosses Ordered to Pay $185,000 to Two Employees Who Fought Back
In Georgia, the former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and three other people were ordered to pay two former employees $185,000. The former employees alleges that Jones created a hostile work environment based on race within the County’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The trial was closely watched because Jones is currently running for Congress, and was the first African American CEO of the County. In one deposition excerpt, a co-defendant (County Parks Director Marilyn Drew) was asked the following questions about Jones:

Q – Have you ever had any conversations with him in the office?
Drew – Yes.
Q – And were they of a threatening nature?
Drew – Yes.
Q – Okay. And on how many occasions?
Drew – I don’t know; a lot.

Not only did this bullying boss lose in court, but the managers were individually ordered to pay money to the two prevailing ex-employees. Jones was ordered to pay $27,750. Marilyn Drew, former parks director, was ordered to pay $55,500. Richard Stogner, top aide to Vernon Jones, was ordered to pay $27,750. You can read the full story HERE.

We Are All Disabled Now
Thinking is a major life activity under the ADA. Head v. Glacier Nw. Inc., 413 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. 2005)

Supervisor to Employee: “Report Me and I’ll #$&*@! You”
This is a

    brand hostile work environment lawsuit

was just filed on Friday, regrettably here in my home state of Oregon. Many law firms subscribe to a service that summarizes the newly filed cases. You’ll see why this one, Holmgren v. Oregon City, caught my attention:

Employment discrimination action. The plaintiff’s supervisor threatened to discipline her for reporting male coworkers’ harassing comments, including a discussion about a coworker not having a girlfriend because he couldn’t “hit the crack,” talking about women not liking to get “fucked in the ass,” and discussing “boners” and a “two inch dick.” When the plaintiff told her supervisors that her daughter needed surgery, one asked, “what did she do, get knocked up?” $600,000.

Pregnancy Discrimination and Retaliation Trial
I want people to see how trials actually end, when employees do sue their bosses and get all the way to trial. Note, these are rare since 95+% of cases settle or are dismissed prior to trial.

But here is the second trial result in today’s post. This was a six day trial filed by a woman who worked for a cabinet company who received positive reviews from her boss until she became pregnant; then her workplace turned hostile and her boss made up a reason to fire her.

Kemp v. Masterbrand Cabinets:Employee worked for Masterbrand as a temp from October 2003 until May of 2004. Employee then became employed by Masterbrand in May, 2004, as a material specialist, and worked the second shift from 3:15 p.m. until 11:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Employee had performance reviews at thirty (30) and ninety (90) days, in which her supervisor, Linda Durrett, rated Employee strong or good in every category of her evaluation. On or about November 2004, Employee became pregnant. Around January 6, 2005, Employee’s doctor put Employee under lifting restrictions of less than 30lbs. The Employee gave her boss a copy of the doctor’s note. Between the time that the company became aware of Employee’s pregnancy, on or about January 6, 2005, and March 18, 2005, Employee claimed she was subjected to discrimination by her supervisor, Ms. Durrett. Ms. Durrett tried to get Employee to leave early on March 12, 2005, so that the company would have “grounds” to terminate Employee. After this scheme failed, Durrett terminated Employee on March 22, 2005 when Employee left on time. The company’s reason for Employee’s termination was Employee had not checked out with her supervisor prior to leaving at the end of her shift. Employee contended that the company conspired to terminate her because she had opposed the pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. Employee brought this action for pregnancy discrimination, retaliation for opposing pregnancy discrimination and wrongful discharge. Injuries: Economic damages only. Specials: Lost Wages $24,200; General Damages $18,000.

Harvard Says Bullying Bosses Are Insecure People
Visitors to this website may want to file this one under “tell us stuff we didn’t already know.” But you’ve got to admit, it never hurts to have the Harvard Business Journal weighing in on our side!

A recent article there states that research shows that bully bosses don’t harass employees just because of the bosses personality and their power. The Review observes that it takes one more ingredient to create an explosive supervisor:

…it was the simultaneous pairing of power with feelings of inadequacy that led people to lash out. In our studies, the power holders who felt personally incompetent became aggressive, not because they were power hungry or had domineering personalities but because they were trying to overcome ego threat. Put simply, bullying is a cheap way to nurse a wounded ego.

The article ends with some advice to hiring managers, which boils down to “hire secure people”. Here’s a snippet of my reply comment at the Harvard website:

Mr. Fast, I applaud you for pointing out that bullying takes money off an organization’s bottom line. I hope that your message takes root, and that management applicants will be screened for the traits you identify.

Until that day, thousands upon thousands of people lay awake at night, feeling sick and nauseous with dread about what form of humiliation they will have to endure the next day — and whether they will be able to endure it. These people can’t wait for new laws and new hiring practices — they need help now.

You can see the full article and all the replies for yourself, HERE

Of course, many people come to this website because their company DID hire insecure people into positions of authority. If you are suffering through such a situation, you may want to consider getting my e-book, Work Laws Exposed, which you can purchase on the Store Page.

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  1. While we get the regular forum fixed, here’s an open thread for people to talk and respond about their workplace problems. And, anyone read any of the the blog posts from the last three days? Should I keep writing them? -Curt

  2. Yes you should keep writing them – they’re great! (OnYourSide)

  3. Sheila Skinner-Martens says:

    I work for Upper Merion School District in the King of Prussia Area. I have a supervisor who is teaching the new director how to bully and intimidate the workers. HR approves of their behavior, because if they didn’t this kind of behavior would not occurr. I have reported to EEOC a discrimination claim for making an example of me for a ticket to smoothing over a damaged air conditioner while purchasing beer off route but claimed he was buying lottery tickets. My story was put in a safety report while his debockle was never mentioned and the School Director caught him in the act of being off route at a beer distributor establishment. This was covered over. This driver is the shop stewart who does nothing to represent the drivers. It appears the representative is in the back pocket of the school district managers. I have just recently recieved another memorandum for a written warning to be put in my file. The union know of the retaliation and the harassment from the supervisor and the new director. I have sent a grievance each time a memo is given to me for any infraction made up or imagined by them. The director is an idiot and his behavior is “shut up and do as I say.” His outrageous bullying is accompanied by the supervisors callaborations to get me fired on any grounds possible. I feel that I am drowning and don’t know what to do next. I feel EEOC is not effective enough. I don’t know what to do next. I am writting this blog while being suspended for three days as retaliation and because they said so.

  4. Sheila Skinner-Martens says:

    Oh yes, and by the way I have not received your book. What do I do now?


  1. says:

    Desperate Housewife Sues Abusive Boss For Hostile Work Environment | UndercoverLawyer…

    TV Star sues her own ex-producer/boss, alleging he created a hostile work environment. Plus real trial results from real hostile workplace environment cases…

  2. Desperate Housewife Sues Abusive Boss For Hostile Work Environment | UndercoverLawyer…

    TV Star sues her own ex-producer/boss, alleging he created a hostile work environment. Plus real trial results from real hostile workplace environment cases…

  3. Desperate Housewife Sues Abusive Boss For Hostile Work Environment | UndercoverLawyer…

    TV Star sues her own ex-producer/boss, alleging he created a hostile work environment. Plus real trial results from real hostile workplace environment cases…

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