What constitutes workplace harassment?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What constitutes workplace harassment?

I had been working at my job for 2 months, never missed a shift, didn’t call in sick and never got in trouble. I was recently fired because I was sick. I had the stomach flu for 3 days, was bedridden, and was vomiting and had diarrhea nonstop during that time. I don’t have insurance nor do I have money to go to the doctor to get a doctor’s note. I had called my managers and explained the situation and they were fine with not briging in a doctor’s note. However, It was 3 days before Christmas when I called in and my manager told me things just weren’t working out with me, however I had never been reprimanded and I get there on time and stay late. He also told me that I had a no call no show the day before but I called the other manager and told her what was going on. She said alright and hung up on me. I called back and said I think the call may have dropped, and she snapped yeah it did, then hung up. They didn’t call me back that day so I assumed they accepted my sick day. The managers had been treating me like crap the week before this happened, so I do not believe he had any reason to fire me. The week before they were praising me for being such a hard worker, then they stopped and started treating me like crap and ignoring me, yet made a big deal over anything the other employees would do. I have no idea what I did because no one said anything to me. I got along great with everyone else that worked there, and was told often that I was the hardest working one there. After my manager fired me over the phone, I called my work’s HR office. When I explained the situation, the HR rep even said that this didn’t sound right and she would send the case to the district manager. When the district manager called me, he said he had to pull up my clock in record and fire me based on that. The managers don’t come in on time, I at least get there before I’m scheduled to work. He said it’s not fair to the other employees if I don’t come in on time so that’s why he decided to fire me. I told him it’s not fair if he’s letting the other people get away with being reprimanded but firing me instead. I know that he was simply covering for the general manager and justifying his decision. My husband’s coworker said this could classify as workplace harassment. Does this count as harassment? And if so, is there anything else I can do?

Asked on January 1, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you did not use any time under the FMLA or any PTO (sick days, vacation, etc.) that you may have had, then you missed work unexcused which is a violaion of your employer's stated company policy. Accordingly, your termination was lawful. The fact is that, a worker can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Most people don't realize that the majority of employment arrangements are "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. The exceptions being if a worker's treatment violated the terms of any appplicable employment contract or union agreement, or in some way constituted legally actionable discrimination or retaliaition (none of which you indicated to be the case here).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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