Can I sue my supervisor at work for physical and verbal harrassment?

I have been being harrassed by my supervisor pretty much ever since I started working at the job I’m at right now. The other day I had to press charges against him because of the fact that he hawked up flem out of his throat and coughed it at my face and the flem hit me in the face 3 times. I asked him 2 times to stop and after the 3rd time I kind of snapped; he told me that if I didn’t like it then I could leave. I want to know how I can go about handling this?

Asked on March 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an employment law law attorney on the subject. If the supervisor is committing any offense which would meet the definitions of harassment, assault, or battery, you could potentially sue him for that--though be aware that you may not be able to recover much money for this (since for causes of action like this, you can generally only receive compensation related to the extent of the actual injuries or damage done). Also be aware that while some of what you describe, like hawking up phlem in your face, if clearly inappropriate and possibly actionable, the law generally allows employers to "harass" employees except as set forth below--employers may legally be crude, rude, nasty, unfair, unprofessional, etc.

The reason to speak to an employment law attorney, rather than a personal injury lawyer, is that if the harassment can be traced or related to illegal discrimination--such as against your race, religion, being over 40, your sex, or a disability--that would be a violation of anti-employment discrimination laws and could potentially lead to a much larger lawsuit.

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