Can you be terminated for informing your immediate supervisor that you are in need of filing a hostile work environment against them?

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Can you be terminated for informing your immediate supervisor that you are in need of filing a hostile work environment against them?

I’ve been having issues with unfair treatment by immediate manager and attempted to voice may concerns to them, but they would reject to have a meeting. After a couple of months, they finally gave me the opportunity to voice my concers. Instead of a productive meeting, the manager began to argue with my concerns and problems and told me to quit if I didn’t agree with him. I then informed him that I would need to speak to someone other than him in the chain of command about filing a hostile work environment complaint. Within 2 hours of the meeting, I was terminated.

Asked on May 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It depends what you mean by a "hostile work environment." Contrary to popular belief, except as set out below, a workplace *can* be hostile--it can be as hostile, unfair, etc. as the employer wants to make it. There is no general legal requirement to treat employees with courtesy, professionalism, even-handedly, etc.

What is not allowed is to show hostility towards an employee because of his or her membership in one of a small number of protected groups. So if the hostile work environment was because of your race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability, for example (that's under federal law; some states add a few more protected categories, like sexual orientation, family status, or national origin), not only is that illegal, but retaliating against you, such as by terminating you, for reporting it is also illegal.

So if the hostility was direted towards you due to your membership in a protected group, the hostility and the termination following your report was illegal.

On the other hand, if the hostility was directed towards you for a non-protected reason--the manager doesn't like your political views, your hobbies/recreation, or just plain doesn't like you, for example--it is legal, and it is also legal to terminate you for reporting it.


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