What, if anything, can I do about a hostile work environment?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What, if anything, can I do about a hostile work environment?

I work in Utah. My boss is the one creating the bad environment. One day things are fine and the next day she ‘perceives’ some problem she accuses me of. This has gone on for quite some time. The other day she threatened me with my job. I have worked 23 years with my employer. She is the new supervisor of about 4 years. I previously had two supervisors and never had any issue whatsoever. It is affecting my health. I have one issue that was an on the job injury. A car accident which resulted in two neck surgeries and an increase in migraines making them chronic. I also have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and not IBS brought on by stress. I have had to go to the doctor to see what could be done about my anxiety and ended up with medication just so I can work there. I now fear for my job. I have 7 years left until retirement and just don’t know what to do. She consistently tells me that I should try to get disability for some reason. Has given me a hard time about using my sick leave because of my chronic migraines. My work has never, every suffered because of my health. She tried to force me to be friends with her at first, now says that was a bad idea. She has put me in a very bad situation. Being forced to be her friend and then when that didn’t work I am continually being raked over the coals for things she ‘perceives’ that aren’t even what really happened. I have no idea what, if anything, I can do. I have looked for other jobs but there are none in our small area and I can’t afford to leave for less money. I am barely making it as it is. Thank you.

Asked on May 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, an employer or a workplace is allowed to be hostile and stressful: the law, in fact permits an employer or workplace to be hostile, as stressful, as disrespectful--even as downright cruel-- as it likes, and there is no recourse for that.
There is an exception to the above: the employer or workplace cannot treat you badly because of a protected characteristic. One of those is disability, which you say that the employer keeps mentioning (e.g. your migraines). An employer may not harass or discriminate against an employee due to his or her disability or chronic severe medical condition. If you believe that is why the employer is doing this, you may have a disability-based employment discrimination claim, and should speak with the federal EEOC or your state civil/equal rights agency.

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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