Hostile Work Environment Definition
post

Hey Grinch Bosses: No Holiday-Time Terminations!

No Holiday Time Terminations

No employee should be terminated after the first week of December until after New Years. This is because any employer who fires an employee during this period will be the embodiment of Scrooge in the eyes of a jury. There’s really no acceptable reason for an employee to get terminated during this holiday time period, outside of theft. And even then, if the employee was stealing in order to put food in the mouth of Tiny Tim, the employee still gets a pass. In other words, no terminations during December. Period. If the employee does something so incomprehensibly bad that they must be kept away from work, such as sexually assaulting another employee or stealing cash out of another employee’s purse, then a smart employer will simply keep the employee away from work through New Years. … [Read more...]

post

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...]

post

Podcast Episode #7: Your Boss Can Be Liable to You For Creating A Hostile Work Environment Based on Age

Download PDF Transcript In Episode #7, we discuss how your boss can be liable to you for creating a hostile work environment based on age.  The main example we cover is Elizabeth Parks v. Lebhar-Friedman, Inc., 2008 WL 4449345 (SDNY) (Oct. 2, 2008). Parks' worked for her employer, Drug Store News, for 26 years.  Even after that much time with nothing but good reviews, Parks felt like her boss was trying to make life miserable for her and push her out.  Her boss concocted excuses to "write her up" and criticize her work for vague reasons that no one could understand, much less act upon. Parks' boss, however, wasn't planning on Parks pushing back.  To learn how she did it, and how she got some smoking gun evidence against her boss and other executives at her company, just listen to the … [Read more...]

post

Avoiding the Axe…Part Two — by Jenn S.

Here are a few more tips for keeping on the straight and narrow at work and avoiding many of the common pitfalls that I have seen result in many lost jobs… DON’T gossip. It’s hard, I know. I have a hard time following this one myself. Gossip is just so fun. Though talking about other people’s faults and foibles can be great entertainment, it can also cause a lot of problems. Generally speaking, people don’t like to be gossiped about and when word gets around that you’re one of the folks spreading other people’s business to all parts of the office, you might become the target of some unpleasant commentary yourself. Office dramas and rivalries often begin with what some might characterize as harmless gossip and end with someone losing a job or at least being moved or demoted. And be … [Read more...]

post

STEP 5 of Walking The Plank Toward Termination: Is Your Boss Hassling You About Tiny Aspects of Your Work?

If you feel like your boss has suddenly started hassling you about tiny, and seemingly irrelevant aspects of your job, then a red flag should go up in your mind.  This is another tell-tale sign that your boss is on the hunt for an employee to terminate -- you. Your boss may be trying to "build a record" of documented mistakes you have made, in order to justify terminating you. Your boss probably has not given you any negative feedback for years, if ever. And when the boss evaluates the major parts of your job -- everything is fine. So, instead of noting your solid performance and moving on, your boss redoubles his or her efforts to find something, anything, that you are doing wrong. This leads your boss into the tiny minutiae of your job -- items that you can't really say are … [Read more...]

post

10 Steps of Walking the Plank Toward Termination: STEP 4 Your Boss Switches From Harassing You In-Person to Harassing You In Writing

When your boss goes to Human Resources and asks "Can I fire this employee right now?", do you know what the H.R. Rep always answers?  H.R. says, "What documentation do you have that shows your employee is not doing their job?" You know what happens next?  Your boss looks down at his or her own feet, and their face starts turning red.  Then they look back up at the H.R. Person and say something like "Goddamnit, don't we have at-will employment in this state?!  It used to be if someone didn't do their job they got fired!  Plain and simple.  How come all you ever say is 'no'?  Why don't you ever help us get things done around here, instead of just putting up road blocks all the time?!" The H.R. Rep responds to this tirade with something like, "I take it you have done no documentation of … [Read more...]

post

10 Steps of Walking the Plank Toward Termination: Step 2 You Have a New Supervisor

Note: If you missed Step 1 in this series you can read it HERE. If a new supervisor takes over your department, brace yourself.  New supervisors change everything, and employees HATE that. What you need to understand is that it is unthinkable to a new supervisor to not change everything.  A new supervisor feels like they need to PROVE that they were the right person for the job.  How do they prove it?  By making changes. It doesn't matter to your new supervisor that everything was working just fine, thank you very much.  Your new supervisor is going to make changes for change's sake.  Your supervisor believes that their changes prove that they are making their mark, shaking things up, raising the bar, blah blah blah. In your new supervisor's mind, this is now their kingdom, their way … [Read more...]

post

10 Steps of Walking the Plank Toward Termination: Step 1 Your Industry Is Sputtering

walkingplank

Many people have written about "Signs You're Getting Terminated," but all those articles miss the natural progression that usually occurs.  These signs don't appear scatter shot around you like the pellets of a shotgun blast.  No, it's more ordered than that.  There are a series of steps that occur before you are terminated.  One leads to the next, like the steps of "walking the plank" toward termination and falling into the cold ocean of unemployment. Through my decade of practicing employment law and through my previous years in human resources, I came to recognize a pattern that almost always occurs, with only slight variations, anytime an employee is fired. Due to these rough economic times, I've added a step at the beginning which is not always there, but certainly increases the … [Read more...]