He has been making comments about my personal life, appearance and texting me after work like “miss me?” sending pictures of himself etc. I have told him many times to stop. If I don’t text back he becomes very hostile and demeaning to me about my looks and performance. He threatens me that I better be scared of him and if I file anything he will make sure I never work in my field again. I’ve reported the threats to another supervisor and he said he only threatens me because he wants me to be obedient. Recently he has had some claims filed against him. He kept asking if I was on his side and offered to buy me things. I told him I don’t want to be involved and now he has taken away my job duties and is extremely hostile towards me daily. It has come to a point where I am having nightmares, can’t sleep and I feel my body can’t take anymore. I called in sick on Friday because I couldn’t stop crying, shaking or catch my breath. What can I do?
Employment / Labor Attorney
I'm very sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney. In the meantime, keep written notes of your encounters with your boss. Make the notes at home, not at work. Stick to the facts -- what was said, who said it, what was done, who did it, when, where, witnesses. Be specific. Keep everything -- text messages, emails, voice mail messages -- related to this situation. Do not alter or destroy anything that may be evidence. You may also want to consider looking for a new job. Good luck.
My answers to questions posted on AVVO are intended to provide general information only, and are not intended to be legal advice. Employment law issues typically require a careful case-by-case analysis. Consequently, if you feel that you need legal advice, I would encourage you to consult in person with an employment attorney in your area.
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am assuming the conduct being directed at you is based on your gender, or a desire by this person to have a romantic relationship with you. That fact, which is not clear, is an important element of any claim you might have.
It is unlawful sexual harassment if a supervisor (or co-worker for that matter) engages in conduct or communications that are so severe or pervasive so as to alter the very nature of your employment relationship. It sounds like you might be suffering in a sexually hostile work environment.
Your first move must be to report this conduct not to some other person in the office, but to the person or department appointed by your company to deal with harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. This is usually a person or department that can be located in your employee handbook or identified in a posting on the wall where the other employment posters are located. Make a written claim directly to that person or department. Be specific. Leave nothing out. Make sure that your employer is aware of every fact that you are aware of related to the workplace comments and threats.
The company's response should be to immediately investigate the report and protect you from this conduct. Anything other than immediate protection and investigation would be a violation of the employer's duties under the law.
If you do not get the assistance you need, you need to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
It is illegal for your company and/or your supervisor to retaliate against you in any way because you reported this conduct. If you face any retaliation, you need to report that as well.
Good luck to you.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
In addition to the excellent advice you have already received, I suggest keeping a journal. In that journal, write down everything that has been said and done by this supervisor, but only those things that are related to (what we are presuming to be) sexual harassment. Writing down every little slight or sideways glance will make you appear to be a complainer, but writing down important incidents, especially related to your gender, will make an important record for you to use later.
Understand that this record could become evidence in any future lawsuit. So don't write anything else down in it, like friend's phone numbers, unrelated notes, or anything like that.
Take the journal home with you every day, as these things have a way of disappearing from the office.
Whatever you do, *don't quit* and *go back to work* if you possibly can. If you quit, any lawsuit you might have loses nearly all of its value, and you will be hard pressed to find an attorney willing to represent you. If you do quit because you just can't take it anymore, that's a valid personal decision, but understand that it will have a major impact on your ability to get an attorney to help you vindicate your rights.
Good luck, and I hope you can resolve this issue.
Craig T. Byrnes
Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not offering legal advice, nor forming an attorney-client relationship with you. I am not representing you, nor doing anything to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have suffered a legal wrong, take action before any statute or limitations expires, or your right to do so may be lost forever. Good luck in your legal matter.