What acts create a hostile work environment?

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What acts create a hostile work environment?

We have an owner that constantly verbally assaults my employees and I. He curses and shakes his finger in our faces daily. He states he’ll “fucking fire” people that do what the other owners tell them to do. He also threatens past employees that they will not work in this field again in CO. Approximately 27/30 employees have left since my start 11 months ago. A few disgruntled employees threatened this man’s life after quitting, which has made our workplace even more intimidating. I have kept record of the worst instances and have several willing witnesses and videotape.

Asked on August 22, 2011 Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is no general law against creating a hostile work environment; an employer may be as hostile as he or she wants. So long as the employer is not--

1) Violating the terms of an employment agreement

2) Discriminating against or harassing employees on the basis of their race, sex, religion, disability, age over 40, etc.

3) Retaliated against employees for bringing a protected complaint (e.g. overtime complaint; discrimination complaint) or using a protected benefit (e.g. FMLA lease)

--the employer may verbally assault, curse at, finger shake at, threaten the jobs of, etc. his employees as much as he  likes. He may also threaten to make it difficult for past employees to work in the field. The law does not prevent awful people from acting awfully, except in limited, narrowly defined ways.


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