What makes for workplace harassment and retaliation?

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What makes for workplace harassment and retaliation?

If so, what can I do? I was called a “motherF” by my boss Friday. He also threatened to dock my paycheck for more than what I’m being paid. I called his boss in HR and made a complaint about the fact that he said this to me. His boss in HR told him that I complained that he was creating a hostile work environment. My boss called me into his office the next day and told me “So, I hear you think I’m creating a hostile work environment. If you eer go over my head again I’ll show you a hostile work environment. I was then given the worst route to work for the day; the one that paid the least.

Asked on May 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is a common myth, that a workplace cannot be hostile or that employers cannot harass or retaliate against their employees. That is mostly not true--as a general matter, a workplace can be very hostile, and managers or supervisors can be rude to, harass, and retailiate against their staff for a variety of reasons, including personal dislike or anger that an employee when over his/her head.

There are exceptions: hostility, discriminatory treatment, and retailation is illegal if--

1) It is directed against the employee due to his or her membership in a specifically protected class or group, such as based on employee race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability.

2) It is retaliation for having filed a specifically protected claim, like for overtime or that you were discriminated against, or for using a specifically protected benefit, like FMLA leave.

3) It is retaliation for having brought certain legal or safety regulation violations to light.

However, apart from the above, your employer can curse at you and can assign you a bad route because he does not like you or you complained about him. He cannot, nowever,, dock your pay unless you agree to it (that is against the law; you must be paid as per your then prevailing wage or rate for all work done), though if you do not have an employment contract protecting your job, you could be demoted, have your wages/salary cut, be suspended, be transferred, or be terminated.


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