What are my rights if my co-workers are creating a hostile work environment?

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2011

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What are my rights if my co-workers are creating a hostile work environment?

I recently returned to work after a medical leave. My supervisor came right up to me and admitted while I was away she and others spoke badly about me and one of my co-workers today told me the had all planned on ignoring me so I would quit. Since I have been back some of my co-workers have been ignoring me and talking behind my back. I am so uncomfortable now. There have been other things said to me by my supervisor I just don’t know how much more I can take.

Asked on October 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

For a workplace to be considered to be "hostile", it must be one that prevents you from doing your job in a reasonable manner. A co-worker (ans this includes a superior), either by words and/or actions, creates an environment that is counterproductive to your performing your job duties. Further, these behaviors typically must be "discriminatory" in nature, not just the result of rude or unprofessional behavior.

Note:  Workplace discrimination is action taken against an employee because they are a member of a "protected class"; in other words unfavorable treatment based an employee's race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, etc.

Based on the facts presented, you may or may not have an actionable claim. Accordingly, at this point you may want to consult directly with an employment law attorney in your area or with your state's department of labor.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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