What defines a hostile work environment?

UPDATED: Aug 26, 2011

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What defines a hostile work environment?

I cannot move fast enough for my boss. I’m afraid if I quit I will be denied unemployment. What are my options? She has also written me up for insubordiation: defiance to do work (which is just not true).

Asked on August 26, 2011 New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is, unfortunately, no law against a workplace being hostile--a workplace may be as hostile as it likes. A boss can be abusive, never satisfied, discipline an employee because (s)he is believed to be insubordinate, or even fire an employee at any time, for any reason (so long as their is no employment contract to the contrary). It does not matter if the claimed insubordination happened or not--since your boss could simply fire you without comment if she likes, she may also write you up if she wants to.

A company may not be hostile for certain defined reasons--no hostility based on race, religion, age over 40, sex, or disability, for example, or because you filed worker's compensation, wage and hour, or discrimination claim. But apart from that, a workplace may indeed be hostile and there is no legal recourse.

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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