No, it is not harassment or hostile work environment, and nothing else actionable under the law. The manager was well within his rights to fire you.
You have also offered no facts as to discrimination. The only unlawful discrimination in the work place is that which is based on race, religion, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, familial status and disability--these are the only categories of unlawful discrimination. Even then, it is a high burden to meet with evidence. A court will not entertain hearsay, hunches, conjecture or speculation. For a lawsuit based on discrimination, you would have to first file an claim with the EEOC. If they find evidence of discrimination, they will give you paperwork akin to permission to sue. This is only for discrimination claims.
Other than the above categories, discrimination is allowed.
We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.
This sounds like really bad management and a lousy job, but not like the employer is doing anything illegal – at least not on the surface. It may depend on the nature of the critical remarks. If the remarks disparage your race, sex, disability, age (40 yrs. or older), accent, etc., then you may be able to pursue a claim.
First,, employees and job applicants have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. In general, an employer can be unfair, obnoxious or bad at management. And an employer can make decisions based on faulty or inaccurate information. An employer has no obligation to warn an employee that he or she is not performing as the employer wants. It’s not a level playing field. An employer hires employees to provide work for its benefit, not for the benefit of the employees. Don't expect the employer to take care of its employees; it doesn’t have to and it rarely does.
There are some limitations on what an employer can do, mostly in the areas of public policy (such as discrimination law or whistle blowing), contract law, union-employer labor relations, and constitutional due process for government employees. Please see my guide to at-will employment in California which should help you understand employment rights: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states. After you take a look at the guide, you may be able to identify actions or behavior that fits one of the categories that allows for legal action. If so, an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney may be helpful.
Unlawful harassment is a form of discrimination. To be unlawful, the harassment must be must be based on a protected category, such as race, sex, religion, disability, age (40 and over), pregnancy, or genetic information. Harassment is also illegal if it is based on whistleblower status, taking or needing family leave, or some other protected category.
Harassment can include verbal conduct, slurs, derogatory comments, comments or questions about a person's body, appearance, religious, or sexual activity, or indication of stereotyping. Harassment can also include offensive gestures, sexually suggestive eye contact or looks, mimicking the employee in an insulting way, and derogatory or graphic posters, cartoons or drawings.
Harassment is unlawful when the conduct is either severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive environment. Severe conduct would include most physical contact and many types of threatening, vulgar or degrading conduct. Pervasive conduct is widespread, happens frequently and/or in many situations. One offensive statement is not pervasive, but the same comment made over and over again may be pervasive.
If the boss' comments fit with the above description of harassment, you can pursue a discrimination complaint. Please look at my guide to unlawful discrimination: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&permalink=what-is-unlawful-employment-discrimination--california-law which should help you understand lawful and unlawful discrimination, how to enforce your rights, and time limits.
Even if there is no legal action you can take, you should report these events to human resources (HR) or higher management, especially if the one giving you the hard time is not the same one who hired you.
Keep a log of any comments, adverse actions or other funny business, starting with the day the first adverse action took place. Write down the date, time, what was said or done, who said or did it, and any witnesses. Do the best you can with anything that took place in the past. Keep your log at home because you never know what might disappear if you leave it at work. And HR may need this information to investigate your complaint.
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@MikaSpencer * * * twitter.com/MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis.