Do I have a hostile work environment case?

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Do I have a hostile work environment case?

My employer was a husband and wife owned business. We had 2 bookkeepers quit within 3 months due to the environment and abusive way the male owner treated his staff and wife. Made her cry multiple times in the office after berating her. He punched the wall, threw equipment, and engaged in name-calling. I initially went to resign almost 4 months ago after in consecutive weeks the boss said he wanted to kill my dog repeatedly after being angry. Then, my GF who worked as their nanny, called him at the office. He was angry after the call and called her a bitch and said that he needed to punch someone and it might it well be me. His wife assured me that she would handle the situation and they convinced me not to resign. The situation did not improve enough. I eventually resigned again about a month ago after having a panic attack and losing 20 pounds from being so uncomfortable at work.

Asked on July 22, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, while unprofessional, your former boss's actions did not constitute wrongful termination. To bring such a case, the aggrieved party must have been a member of a "legally protected class". In other words, their treatment must have been due to their race, religion, gender, nationality, age (40+) or disability. Since this is not the situation here, you have no claim. The fact so that most employment relationships are "at will". Therefore, absent an empoyment contract/union agreement to the contrary or some form of legally actionable discrimination being a factor (as explained above), a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit.

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, while unprofessional, your former boss's actions did not constitute wrongful termination. To bring such a case, the aggrieved party must have been a member of a "legally protected class". In other words, their treatment must have been due to their race, religion, gender, nationality, age (40+) or disability. Since this is not the situation here, you have no claim. The fact so that most employment relationships are "at will". Therefore, absent an empoyment contract/union agreement to the contrary or some form of legally actionable discrimination being a factor (as explained above), a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit.


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