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What are my rights if my coworker/supervisor stress me out over her work load on daily basis.

Sacramento, CA |

My coworker stresses me out over her work load. I've worked with her in close proximity for five years. She uses profanity on a daily basis and derogatory comments.I get a headache, anxiety and depressed during my work day. What are my rights and what do you recommend? I'm also afraid of retailation.

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Attorney answers 3


This is not a legal question so much as a personal one. The law does not regulate most interactions between employees or between employees and their bosses. There is no law against "stressing people out," using profanity, or making rude or derogatory comments. The only instance in which such harassment would typically be actionable is if it related in some manner to your race, religion, gender, or some other legally protected trait, in which case you may have a claim for hostile work environment. Assuming that is not the case, which does not seem to be based on the facts you have described, the law offers you no protection whatsoever.

Your recourse is to complain to HR or to your supervisor about this employee's unprofessional behaviors. It will be up to them how to handle it.

I wish you the very best moving forward.

This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.


I agree with Mr. Phillips. I want to add that I noticed you posted this under "discrimination" and "hostile work environment" . I've found it common for folks who are in a stressful work situation, and encountering co-workers or supervisors who they feel are making their workplace difficult to tolerate, to use those terms. Under the law however, the discrimination or hostile workplace has to be based upon a protected class, such as race, sex, national origin, etc in order for it to be unlawful. The types of classes that are protected have been expanded over the years in California, but in any case it has to be based upon your being in a protected class and not just because someone is causing you stress or acting like a jerk.

THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as are provided for information purposes only. The only way to determine how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.


I agree with my colleagues' responses that unless the stress caused by an unlawful conduct, it stays within the normal consequences of working for someone else. When the conduct that causes stress is severe and pervasive enough that constitutes a hostile environment, and it implicates one of the protected traits of the employee such as his/her race, age, sex, etc., then there is an action against the person who has caused the harassment and the employer who knew about the harassment or should have known about the his/her harassing conducts. However, when the harasser is not your supervisor and or even your supervisor, does not have the authority to affect your employment conditions, i.e., fire, demote, transfer, etc., then situation become more tricky and imputing liability to the employer becomes difficult. You should contact HR and your supervisor and report the harassing conduct of the co-employee and ask them to make necessary steps to eliminate the harassment, however, you might want to be careful in your interaction with your co-worker to avoid any tension.

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