What constitutes discrimination or a hostile work environment?

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What constitutes discrimination or a hostile work environment?

My sister worked as an asst. manager for a property management company for several years. She absolutely loved her job. Her properties were sold and she was kept on because she had such a great working history of keeping the finances orderly and reports timely. However, the new company that purchased her former company now has a management group who came in with employees who are related to one another so she feels like she can’t speak to anyone in a fully confidential manner as well as employees who all seem to

Asked on April 26, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

The reason the EEOC deals with discrimination and not hostile work environments is that there is nothing illegal about creating a hostile work environment, or making a job unrewarding and unpleasant in the hope that an employee will quit, if the action is not motivated by one or another of the specifically made illegal types of discrimination. Remember: employment in this nation is "employent at will": there is no right to or guaranty of a job which means, among other things, that the employer can treat employees as badly as it likes, and their only recourse is to put it with it or leave.
The exception is that certain forms of discrimination--that is, certain motivations for unfair or unequal treatment--have been made illegal by statute. Under federal or national law, it is illegal to treat an employee worse or differently (which includes harassing him or her) due to his/her race, color, national origin, age 40 or over, sex, disability, or religion. Your state (CA) adds additional protected categories: sexual orientation; sexual identity or gender expression; marital status; military service; and genetic information.
IF your sister believes there is evidence that their treatment of her is motivated by discrimination against one or another of those categories, she may have a complaint to bring to the EEOC or the state's equal/civil rights agency. But if not--if it is not due to the such specifically outlawed discrimination--she would have no claim and they can treat her like this.


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