What defines a hostile work environment?

I cannot move fast enough for my boss. I’m afraid if I quit I will be denied unemployment. What are my options? She has also written me up for insubordiation: defiance to do work (which is just not true).

Asked on August 26, 2011 New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is, unfortunately, no law against a workplace being hostile--a workplace may be as hostile as it likes. A boss can be abusive, never satisfied, discipline an employee because (s)he is believed to be insubordinate, or even fire an employee at any time, for any reason (so long as their is no employment contract to the contrary). It does not matter if the claimed insubordination happened or not--since your boss could simply fire you without comment if she likes, she may also write you up if she wants to.

A company may not be hostile for certain defined reasons--no hostility based on race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability, for example, or because you filed worker's compensation, wage and hour, or discrimination claim. But apart from that, a workplace may indeed be hostile and there is no legal recourse.


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