What can I do about a hostile work enviornment?

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What can I do about a hostile work enviornment?

I work in a school My superior has always treated me unfairly but lately it has been getting worse. I have been called names and I feel as if it is personal. I do not feel comfortable going into work. I also do not know who to speak to I am afraid if I say something it will make things worse because they are all friends. My union is useless I just pay for it every 2 weeks but my union people are also good friends with her. I cannot go on feeling as if I should walk on eggshells. I feel very uneasy even being in the same room with her. She does not do this to any of the other employees and I just feel I have been pointed at by her. What do I do?

Asked on October 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you don't have an employment contract or union agreement (see below), you can't do anything about a hostile work environment, unless the hostility is motivated by discrimination against one of a small number of specifically protected groups or characteristics. So, for example, if the hostility is aimed at you because of your race, sex, religion, because you are disabled, or because you are 40 or older, it may be illegal discrimination. But if it is not illegal discrimination, there is generally no recourse under the law: an employer (including managers, supervisors, etc.) is allowed to treat employees as badly as he or she wants, or to aim hostility personally at an individual he or she does not like, and to also treat employees unfairly.

You say you belong to a union: even if the union is itself not helpful, as a union member, you should have whatever rights (e.g. rights to a transfer; to file a grievance; to have proper procedure followed if any action is to be taken against you; etc.) are contained in the union agreement. You should also have any rights which may be in any agreements or contracts (if any) between you and the school. So you need to look at your union agreement and any other contracts or agreements to see what rights you have, because apart from contractual rights, you would have only have rights if the hostility is motivated by illegal discrimination.


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