What legal recourse does an employee have if they are called an expletive by their employer?

UPDATED: May 26, 2011

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What legal recourse does an employee have if they are called an expletive by their employer?

My friend recently quit her job after an incident at work. She caught her manager in a lie which prompted the manager to call my friend a ‘”two-faced bitch”. My friend went to the owner and reported the incident. The owner wanted my friend to continue working but wasn’t willing to remedy the situation. So in order to avoid returning to a hostile work environment, my friend told the owner that if he couldn’t fix the issue and create a less hostile work environment, that she was going to quit.

Asked on May 26, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately there in no right to politeness in the workplace.  Therefore, if she quits, it will not be for cause therefore she will be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

By way of explanation a hostile workplace environment prevents you from doing your job duties reasonably. In this scenario, a boss or co-worker creates an environment that is counterproductive due to their behavior and actions. However, these behaviors typically must be discriminatory in nature and are not just a result of rude or boorish behavior. And discrimination is action taken against you because you are a member of a "protected class"; in other words race, religion, age, disability, sex, national origin (and in some states gender identity) must not be a factor in your treatment.

Based on the you that you have facts presented, neither seems to have played a role in your situation. Accordingly, your treatment while obnoxious and unprofessional, is legal. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that basically the employer can hire or 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, you can work for an employer, or not, your choice. Exceptions to the above would be if there is a stated company policy covering this, or there is a union/employment agreement to the contrary, or (as stated above) if your situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination.

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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