Hostile Work Environment Definition
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The Hostile Work Environment That Brought Down Paula Deen

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Many people do not realize that Paula Deen's troubles do not just stem from her admitting that she used the N-word, but that she admitted using the N-word during a hostile work environment lawsuit filed against her.  Even if you are a huge Paula Deen fan, you probably have more in common with the employee than you have in common with Paula Deen.  Do any of these things sound like something you've experienced at work? You suffer through work days under a supervisor who: Makes sexual comments Utters racist remarks Looks up dirty jokes and pictures on his office computer Promotes only people who remind him of himself, and Threatens anyone who questions him When you or a co-worker finally muster up the courage to say something to your boss’s boss, one of three things happens: You are … [Read more...]

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Why You Should Not Give Up if the EEOC Turns Down Your Hostile Work Environment Claim

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Schools Tackle Teacher-on-Teacher Bullying In the Workplace USA Today features an interesting article about how 41 states have anti-bullying statutes for students, but zero states have anti-bullying statutes that apply to the teachers or administrators. That's starting to change, however, with two school districts -- one in Iowa and one in California -- for the first time ever explicitly prohibiting teacher to teacher bullying. This collateral bullying is a huge topic in itself. But what's troubling to me is that the article does NOT specifically state that the new rules prohibit school administration from bullying teachers. It's an otherwise interesting article, and you can read it HERE. When an EEOC Investigator Turns You Down, You Can Still Prevail I recently advised an … [Read more...]

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Whistleblower Protection for Nurses in Health Care Reform Bill

Protected from Whistle Blowing by New Health Care Reform Bill

The "Health Care Reform Bill" that has been at the top of the news lately contains some good news for nurses, nursing home employees, and other health care workers who are suffering under a bullying boss or being harassed at work. Now this reform bill, which is actually named "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009," does not outright prohibit bullies in the healthcare workplace. Although it would be a good idea to catch the U.S. up with the rest of the civilized world, we're still a ways off from making it illegal to purposefully ruin another person's career. But, this law can be a another tool that you can learn to use in your fight against an unfair supervisor. Specifically, the Bill gives whistleblower AND retaliation protection to health care workers! The … [Read more...]

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To Your Resounding Success in 2010

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After receiving a huge response to the following email, I decided to share it with everyone here on the site as well. A sneak peak into the new Employment Law Academy is at the bottom of the post. People have told me that there are more urgent problems in the world that workplace abuse, bullying bosses, and hardworking people getting fired for dumb, made up reasons. Yes, I know about the "bigger problems" these people are referring to. I know about the global warming and the slave trade and the earthquakes and tsunamis and Osama Bin Laden. I know about cancer and birth defects and the bloody 20th century and the pollution in China and the prostitution rings in Bangkok. … [Read more...]

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Podcast #10: Bully Boss Creates Hostile Work Environment by Forbidding Bathroom Breaks!

No Bathroom Breaks

Don't Have iTunes on Your Computer? Free Download from Apple w/ easy install instructions. Main Segment In the Main Segment of Episode #10 we tackle the issue of "Bully Bosses Who Forbid Bathroom Breaks."  This craziness happens much more frequently than you may think.  Can you guess who the primary victims are? #1 Spanish radio station in Miami The radio show I mention during the show is 98.3.  My thanks to Frank, the Undercover Lawyer community member from Miami who got the book and called in to 98.3 to talk about it.  Thanks Frank! All Spanish UCL Site Now Launched: www.demandas-empleos.comNew Segment -- The Q & A: We also debut a new segment in Episode #10, the Q&A.  In you have a legal question about work that you think other listeners would be interested in, send it to me … [Read more...]

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Whistleblower Stops The Train of Hostile Work Environment

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Federal OSHA ordered Union Pacific Railroad to give the welder his original job back, repay the welder for all the time and mileage he spent commuting to the second job he was transferred to, pay his attorney fees and pay him compensatory damages. OSHA doesn't release the names of employee-whistleblowers, but here's what we do know about the situation: the employee was a welder based in Beverly, Iowa, who worked on repairing railroad tracks for Union Pacific Railroad. You've heard the old adage that you're never supposed to stop on railroad tracks, right? Well that's exactly where this welder spent his work day -- sitting on railroad tracks. It's dangerous work. So one day he is particularly concerned about on-coming trains. In fact he goes to his Track Manager and asks for a lookout. … [Read more...]

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The Whistleblower Wins Money. Big Money.

A male flight crew employee working for "Southern Air Inc", which is a cargo airline, complained twice to managment about safety concerns. First he complained about inadequate rest breaks. Then he complained about being forced to work extra hours, beyond what the FAA allows by law. So what happened next? Southern Air retaliated against the employee, of course! First he received less work. Then the company "discovered" problems with his job performance. Then, in April of 2008, he was terminated. After being terminated the employee filed a complaint with a regional office of OSHA.  OSHA investigated, and found that the employee's complaint had merit.  OSHA issued a prelimiary opinion, ordering Southern Air to pay the terminated employee: "$300,000 for loss of career wages, $135,240 in … [Read more...]

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Are You a Victim of Sexual Favoritism at Work?

I was working on a summary of a case called Miller v. Dept of Corrections for the community when, like fate, this question was posted to the forum by a woman who was feeling driven from her job by her boss: QUESTION: [Edited for clarity]  "I don't think he's discriminating based on sex, race or religion. He just didn't like what I said one day, which was that he "should be more discrete with that girl in accounting" since he is married. He has had it out for me ever since. He gave me a horrible review. I went to HR with examples disproving the review. They pushed it to the side and agreed with him. I talked to his boss and stated if someone was going to be given a review that bad then examples should accompany it. She said "Well, he said he told you about it". I work in a technical … [Read more...]

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Three Female Employees Win $485,000 For Retaliation & Sex Harassment from Fred Meyer Stores

SEATTLE - Fred Meyer Stores, Inc. (Fred Meyer) will pay $485,000 to three female victims of sexual harassment and retaliation to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the EEOC announced today. According to the EEOC's suit ( EEOC, et. al. v. Fred Meyer Stores, Inc. No. CV08-0208 HA, United States District Court of Oregon), the company's practice of harassing female employees occurred during 2004 through 2005 at the Fred Meyer Oregon City store. The EEOC says the sexually hostile work environment started at the top, with illegal conduct by the store director and operations manager. The EEOC further asserted in the litigation that the store director and operations manager repeatedly subjected females to graphic sexual discussions, … [Read more...]

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Can Complaining About Job Harassment Save You From Layoffs?

Woman facing job layoff

How many news stories have you seen or read lately that blare dark and stormy stories of our slowing economy, banks going bankrupt, and workers facing wave after wave of mass layoffs? Have you noticed, too, how people act out during stressful times?  Sometimes they act out in stupid ways. A male co-worker acted stupidly toward Jessica Houston, when she was sharing a half-time scheduler position at an Indianapolis hospital.  But the male co-worker wasn't the only bad actor in this case; Jessica's manager got involved too.  There was plenty of stupid to go around. Real Life Case: The male co-worker was 52, and Jessica was 22.  Two times he found her in a break room or lunch room, sat down in her lap, and whispered in her ear "You're beautiful." Houston felt ashamed and confused.  It … [Read more...]