Do I have any options or rights regarding a hostile work enviornment?

A supervisor of mine was out with friends discussing their job. The supervisor made some negative comments about me, a subordinate, to their friend. The friend then took it upon themselves to write a negative review about me on a popular review website. Once I found out that the person who wrote the negative review about me knew my supervisor, I immediately gathered up all my evidence and information and submitted to HR. The supervisor does admit to discussing their job with their friend and also admits they said negative things about me outside of work. HR was able to confirm with the website the time, date and the person who wrote the review. All the information and evidence I presented to them checked out to be correct. The supervisor was not terminated. I have told HR how uncomfortable I am with this supervisor now, how I don’t think that I can trust them and how I feel I am being placed in a hostile work environment. HR has stated clearly to me that they will not be terminating the supervisor and that the 2 of us will have to continue working together. The comment left on the website, was about how I gave this person who I have never meet and has never been at this place of business bad customer service, how I was rude to them and how they were never going to return. It states my name and I know it is a bit weird but my hair color. How would that person know that specific information if they have never meet me or have never been to this location? I would think that this is confidential information that a supervisor should not be giving outside of the work place. The statement left on the website was clearly intended for me to get in trouble with my employer. I felt it was a personal attack on me and my professional career. Seriously, why would a friend leave a negative comment about a co-worker you work with and have never met? Sounds like a conspiracy to maliciously attack me and slander my professional career for all to see. I don’t want to quit or leave my job. Is there anything else I can do?

Asked on May 4, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A "hostile work environment" is a workplace environment that prevents an employee from performing their job in a reasonable manner. In such an enviornment, a superior and/or co-worker, either by behavior and/or actions, create an environment that is counterproductive to the employee performing their work duties. However, these behaviors must be legal discrimination and not just the result of rude or unprofessional behavior. Legally actionable discrimination is action taken against someone because they are a member of a "protected class". This means that they were treated differently due to their race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, etc.
Based on the facts that presented, it appears that you do not have a claim for a hostile work enviornment. Further, most employment relationships are "at will", which means that as a general rule an employer can fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit. In turn, the employee can work for an employer or not, their choice. That having been said you may have a claim for slander. At this point, you should consult with an attorney as to the details of your case. They can then best advise you further.

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