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ARTICLES:

Harassment — Some legal considerations possibly arising from “Harassment” scenarios. A lot of people call me and declare that they are being “harassed.” The law may or may not be able to help. It all depends …

See also the following articles:

Select a type of “Harassment” from the list below:

I’m being “harassed” at work by a mean boss.
He picks on a lot of people and we’re fed up with it.
Anything I can do about it?

See also the following articles:

If your boss is saying offensive things to you or about you because of your sex, race, age, religion, disability, etc., then you are being discriminated against. Call a lawyer. Consider filing a complaint or charge of discrimination. See my discrimination article for more information and links.

If the boss is picking on you to retaliate against you for something, then you should call a lawyer and see if you have any protection against retaliation in your particular circumstances. See my Retaliation article for more info.

But if the “harassment” is just “mean boss syndrome,” you will probably not be able to sue anyone over it. Maybe this employer deserves a union, so why not call one of the union halls and see about organizing something? If you try to organize a union and get retaliated against, call a lawyer right away, and consider filing a charge of retaliation with the National Labor Relations Board.

What I call “Mean Boss Syndrome” is when the employer is just a jerk, and is a jerk regardless of your race, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin, etc, or whether you have previously complained of discrimination, engaged in union activity, or been a whistleblower, etc. He’s not “retaliating” against you; he’s just a jerk, an “equal opportunity” jerk to everyone. He likes to yell at people. He’s short tempered and rude, and you think it’s a miracle the business survives with a person like him running things. Generally speaking, there’s probably not much the employment laws can do to help you. But it’s perfectly acceptable to call a lawyer and have a chat about it. Maybe your circumstances give you rights, where most people would not have any special rights.

EXAMPLE CASE: Alagna v. Smithville R-II School District (Case #02-3057, 8th Circuit, April 3, 2003 – PDF file opens in new window). In Alagna, a sexual harassment case, the trial court threw out the case on “summary judgment” for several different legal technicalities, and there was not a trial (see The Sorry State of our Employment Protections for a discussion of what summary judgment means). On appeal, the 8th Circuit affirmed, finding that the alleged harasser treated males and females the same way. When the alleged harasser treats males and females the same way, it’s tough for women like Alagna to make gender discrimination claims – the alleged wrongdoer is not “discriminating” based on gender in a way that the law will recognize. The Court uses the language “Equal Opportunity Discriminator”.

As always, if you have a Contract of some type, including a Non-compete agreement, you should see a lawyer right away because you might have options and considerations that others don’t have.

I’m being “harassed” at work by my mean boss.
He picks on me in particular.

See also the following articles:

You might be experiencing one of the signs of an impending wrongful termination, or the employer may be committing a form of Retaliation against you. The employer may be trying to force you to quit rather than formally terminate you. See my constructive discharge article if you think you are being forced to quit.

If your boss is saying offensive things to you or about you because of your sex, race, age, religion, disability, etc., then you are being discriminated against. Call a lawyer. Consider filing a complaint or charge of discrimination. See my discrimination article for more information and links.

If the boss is picking on you to retaliate against you for something, then you should call a lawyer and see if you have any protection against retaliation in your particular circumstances.

Call a lawyer and try to figure out what happened that motivated the boss to begin picking on you. It may be an illegal form of retaliation or discrimination. If the motive falls within some of the protections in the employment laws, you may very well benefit from legal services.

As always, if you have a Contract of some type, including a Non-compete agreement, you should see a lawyer right away because you might have options and considerations that others don’t have.

Someone at work is saying offensive things about me or to me
because of my gender, pregnancy, race, age, religion, national origin, disability, etc.

See also the following articles:

Offensive comments based on gender, pregnancy, race, age, religion, national origin, disability, etc. are a form of discrimination. Call a lawyer. Consider filing a complaint with human resources or a formal charge of discrimination. See the Links I provide on this web site for more information. The EEOC website has a lot of detailed info.

A few fairly tame discriminatory offensive comments by themselves do not usually give you the right to sue anyone until you have made a proper complaint and given management a chance to stop the offensive comments from happening in the future. Then, if the discriminatory offensive comments continue, you may be able to sue after filing a formal charge of discrimination. A proper complaint usually consists of telling the story to Human Resources or to a manager who is above the level of the person making the discriminatory offensive comments. See my Complaints article for more info and some tips about making effective complaints. Any time discriminatory offensive comments are being made you should consider calling a lawyer and talking about it.

Please also take a few minutes and have a look at my Hostile Work Environment article.

As a general rule, it is unwise to quit your job before you get legal advice. See my “constructive discharge” article for more info on the things you might need to consider if you want to quit your job and sue. If you quit your job without getting legal advice and taking the proper steps, you run a fairly high risk that you will severely weaken or even destroy whatever case you might have had. See the case of Diana Duncan v. General Motors (PDF file – opens in new window) (Duncan quit due to discriminatory offensive comments, but the Court of Appeals said she couldn’t sue because she did not meet the standards for “constructive discharge.”)

A lawyer can work with you on how to make a proper and effective complaint about the mistreatment. During the complaint process, both what you say, and also what you do not say, will be used against you later on in court if you need to sue over the mistreatment. See my complaints article for more info and tips in connection with the complaint process.

As always, if you have a Contract of some type, including a Non-compete agreement, you should see a lawyer right away because you might have options and considerations that others don’t have.


***** END OF ARTICLE *****

Timslaw.com Missouri Employment Law

Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)

Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

Missouri Bar Website (To view the directory of lawyers).

Phil Willoughby, Attorney
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Kansas City Office:
GUNN, SHANK & STOVER, P.C.
9800 NW Polo, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64153
Google Map of 9800 NW Polo, Kansas City, MO 64053

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Appointment Only

Phone:
St. Louis: 314-729-7750
Kansas City: 816-454-5600
Fax: 816-454-3678

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