What to do about the intentional creation of a hostile work enviorment?

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What to do about the intentional creation of a hostile work enviorment?

My father is 50 years old and has been working at the same company for 25 years. He makes $17 an hour and new employees start at $14. They are reducing him to starting wage, making him use vacation or lose it. They discussed his pay with all the non-managerial employees and just suspended him for a week without pay for asking another employee what’s going on. I believe they’re trying to create a hostile work enviorment to get all the senior employees to quit so they don’t have to pay unemployment. Is there anything he can do? He has a meeting in a week to discuss his future there.

Asked on May 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While as a general matter, employers may be as "hostile" as they like--since as a general matter, employers may simply fire any employee (who does not have an employment contract protecting them) at any time--there are certain exceptions. One exception is that an employer may not harass or discriminate against an employee who is older than 40 on account of his or her age; any negative employment action must, in fact, be supported by some valid, non-age-discriminatory reason.

From what you write, your father may be facing illegal age-related employment discrimination, which could give rise to a legal claim or cause of action on his part. His two options to explore and, if appropriate, vindicate his rights are to either contact the state department of labor to file a complaint and/or to consult with an employment law attorney about possibly bringing a lawsuit.


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