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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.


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