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Hostile Work Environment Definition

Hostile Workplace Podcast #5: “I Don’t Know What FMLA Is, But I’m Sure YOU Don’t Qualify For It”

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Have you heard a supervisor admit they don’t know about something with one breath, but then proceed to tell you what you should do about that thing in their next breath?  Listen to one of my readers, Vicki, tell her story dealing with that exact scenario.

Once Vicki used FMLA, others at her work wanted to use FMLA leave too.  This angered her supervisors, who launched a campaign to “get” her.

Listen to Podcast Episode #5 now to hear how Vicki has fared against her company’s attack (and don’t expect a nicey nice happy ending).

You can listen to Podcast #5 through the player here on

Or, if you have iTunes you can click on the link below to listen there and subscribe to the podcast for free:

The Quick Tip for this episode is an update on the subject of Male to Male sexual harassment. New cases are being filed against restaurants you’ve heard of.

Finally, the Hostile Workplace Podcast now has a listener comment line: (360) 450-5750.

After listening to the show call in and let us know what you think of Vicki’s story, or call in and share your own workplace story. You may find yourself on the front page of the iTunes “Careers” section!

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  1. annchen1 says:

    I was terminated from my last job due to unfair and harashed treatement, my last 6 months on the job was in a living hell. I was harassed, intiminated, no one at my department was talking to me during the work hours. My supervisor’s harshed treatment to me I went to hospital emergency room in and out for 3 days due to panic attack. Some people suggested me to file a suit against the company, but so far my case is not successful, the court said to me that employer can do anything they want even they are at fault.

    I need my justice, I am suffering, I need an attorney who can understand my suffering and express my feeling to the court. I hope my last employer wil do what they did to me to anyone again.
    in the future.

    Do you know any undercover attoney who can help to obttain my justice on my case so I may get my peace? Please advise. please email me at or call me at 248-202-9006. Thanks a million.

  2. Annchen,

    My best suggestion for finding a local attorney is to post something on our forum page:

    There are many people there who are smart and sympathetic and ready to help. Be sure to say what state and city you are in.


  3. I have worked for 6 months at a Dr. clinic owned by him. For 6 months I was harassed both by the manager and the owner I was so emotionally traumatized that I requested my primary doctor to put me on anti anxiety pills. i used to come home each day and cry. I am a single parent who has struggled a lot and all this have affected my relationship with my children
    On various occasions the dr. used to pass demeaning comments on my ethnicity, he used to say things like you are too indian and need to get rid of your indianness. i had made him aware of the managers abusive behavior and he said that well, then you should look for another job if you are not happy with her.

    Also, i have submitted my Dr. note who had treated me for my back problems, he is DO, in the note he stated clearly that i should not be allowed to carry or lift more than 20 lbs and yet, each week i was forced both by this Dr. and by the abusive manager to transport their scanning machine along with other stuff when they had other employees who were transporting other things but they forced me to do this. as a result my back problem had worsended.. i had to bring the machine home and then transport it to his satellite offices which was an hour away from my home. also, there i was made to bring in 500 lb x ray machine from the hospital to his clinic. also, for 3 months i was not assigned or accomodated any one spot to sit and work , the manager used to shuffle me from room to room in a demeaning manner, despite many requests made it was turned down each time. where as all the other employees had their own desk, excpet me. my back problem had deteiorated due to all this. i requested the owner to which he yelled back and said if you can’t transport these machines then i will have to replace you. Is this disability? can I claim for this when I file a report against them even though I am not claiming disability from the government?
    the manager was very abusive and used to intimidate me by variuos tactics.
    recently i was fired and it was wrongful termination, the owner said that he is fring me because i had taken 3 sick days in a perioud of 6 months, also one day i had an emergency and i did call the manger and informed her that i will be coming in late. I left two voicemails but she didn’t return my calls which i think on purpose.. The owner also made that in excuse to fire me and said that according to our office policy if you do not hear back from the manager then you should have arrived according to your schedule. Now, i wasn’t given any employee handbook and was not aware of this policy so I told him and he yelled back at me and said ‘well this is common sense.
    all the other employees were given paid sick days, and i know that many employees are chronic later comers but no action has been taken against them. i feel that i was discriminated and abused at this place.
    another thing is that the owner had send me to attend a conference for which he paid the fees. and a week later after that conference was over the manager hands me the contract paper which stated that if for any reason my job is terminated then i have to return all the conference money which is around $1000.
    I want to ask why this contract was handed to me after i had attended this conference? is it illegal to hand me this conference.
    i have recently requested an access to my persoannel records and the manger wrote back that i need to pay back that money first. The owner have also not payed my wages for the weekend work i had done and says that he will not as he will deduct that amount from that conference money,

    i live in michigan and i want to know what are my legal rights. i want to file a case against this Dr. and his abusive manager. please help what should I do. I am very much emotionally traumatized and stressed as a result of this harassment and discrimination. Please, please advice me.

  4. Nhz,

    Do NOT return the $1,000. This doctor is on crack if he thinks you are legally obligated to return that money. And, it is against the law for him to hold your personnel file hostage.

    First, give the doctor a written request for a copy your personnel file pursuant to MCLA 423.501. Make sure you give your name and address, social security number, and dates of employment. Also include the sentence “I understand that I can be charged a reasonable fee for copying expenses.” I suggest you mail the request “return receipt requested” or fax it and save the confirmation page.

    Second, you potentially have claims against the clinic for race discrimination, disability discrimination (you simply have to be “impaired in a major life activity”), and a workers compensation claim for the worsening of your back.


    a)You should file a work comp claim, at ;

    b) file for unemployment insurance: ;

    c) file a discrimination claim:

    Fourth: You may also want to speak with a private attorney who can file a traditional lawsuit on your behalf. Here is one based in Detroit who has Michigan law for employees on their site:

    I hope this helps you. Please keep in touch.


  5. Thanks a lot. I have filed a complaint with the local michigan employees agency. One thing I did not understand is what did you mean by (you simply have to be “impaired in a major life activity”),
    Does it have to be permanent?
    Also, if I file of workmans comp, will it affect my insurance premium? I am receiving unemployment benefit, will workmans comp also help out with the loss wages along with the cost of treatments? What is the duration of the payment and the process?

    Once again I appreciate your time and love this forum. I am already learning to know and stand up for my rights. Thank you.

  6. To qualify as “disabled” under the ADA, you do not have to have a traditional permanent disability like being in a wheelchair or having downs syndrome. Instead, the bar is much lower for the ADA. To qualify, you merely have to be “impaired in a major life activity.” Lifting is a major life activity. If you have a permanent condition that is better sometimes and flares up and gets worse other times, you still have a permanent impairment.

    Filing for Work Comp will NOT affect your insurance premium, though it will affect your employers payroll tax rate.

    Work comp DOES pay you for time lost from work because of a workplace injury; work comp also covers medical bills for the treatment of the injury that occurred at work.

    The process is different in each state. Just follow the link to go to your state’s website about filing work comp and follow what they have to say.

    Great to hear that you “love this forum”. Learning to stand up for your rights is what we’re all about!


  7. Thanks for the advice. My previous employer is denying me access to my personnel documents. I have e-mailed her repeatedly and she continues to ignore my e-mails. What do you think it’s going on there? How much time should I give to them? What if I take them to court, and then they show up those personnel files of which I have no knowledge. How can I protect myself? Please advice.

  8. I have a question, i have a co-worker whose hours were reduced recently from 42 to now 18 and she is extremely anxious as she is unable to meet her needs, paying bills etc. The sad thing is that she was hired as a full time employee and now since they dont’ want to pay her health insurance that’s why they did this. She is also over 40 i feel just like what they did to me they have done the same thing to her that is discriminated because of her age. Do you think she would qualify for unemployment if she chooses to leave this job because she is not able to meet her basic needs? Also, even if she continues there as a part timer will she still qualify for an unemployment benefit? Please suggest I want to help my co-worker.

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