What are my rights if I work in a hostile work evviornment?

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What are my rights if I work in a hostile work evviornment?

I work as a nurse for a pediatric practice with 3 locations with 9 partners. A physician grabbed my arm and verbal cussed at me. I’m not the only employee who has experienced his behavior. HR knows of it but doesn’t act. What recourse can I pursue other than refusing to work with him again, in which case I will likely be terminated or finding another practice in a very tight market. Is his action illegal?

Asked on October 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It is illegal to grab or strike you against your will--that is technically assault, though if there are no injuries, you can't recover any money for it, and the police will not take a single grab, without injury seriously. It is not illegal to cuss at employees--employers, managers, co-workers etc. can be as rude, vulgar, etc. as they like. The law does not guaranty you a pleasant or professional workplace, and your employers or coworkers can be as hostile as they like.

However, the real problem you have is that if you don't have an employment contract, you are  an employee at will. An employee at will has essentially no rights to his/her job. Therefore, if you refuse to work with one of the physicians, you will likely be fired and have no effective recourse.


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