Do I have a legal case for co-worker harrassment?

My co-worker, who is employed by my company’s subconsultant, is harassing me in the office by using chemical fragrances – a lamp with a plate of wax that are toxic to me due to my autoimmune disease. I have already advanced my concerns to my company’s HR department, including providing a letter from my doctor, and to my co-worker’s HR department. No one will do anything because they say my co-worker has the right to do whatever they want. My company says 2 things are taboo – eating hot food at our desks and using perfumes, air fresheners, candles, etc. Since my co-worker is a sub to my company, does my company management have the right to make everyone follow the same rules?

Asked on November 4, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless your treatment violates the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, then you have no recourse here. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). Accordingly, your options are to put up with your co-worker's behavior, continue to complain about it but risk termination, or quit.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless your treatment violates the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, then you have no recourse here. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). Accordingly, your options are to put up with your co-worker's behavior, continue to complain about it but risk termination, or quit.


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