Long ago there was a relationship between the owner a this small business I work for but now that I won't show him affection and tell him to leave me alone because he is married , he makes my life hell at work and I am really in a bad spot because I need this job but hate this situation . What can I do about this situation ? I've been working there for 11 years , there are soo many things like he with use foul language to me , give me dirty looks, not help me when I need help with customers. ( I'm a waitress and he is manager /owner and when I get overwhelmingly busy he won't help when he's mad at me) he's always mad at me now because I tell him leave me alone he's married . Please help this has been ongoing for too long!
Are you saying your employer is treating you this way because you will not continue the "relationship" with him? If so, any tangible acts of retaliation are unlawful. But, quite honestly, I do not see how the employment relationship can continue. My suggestion is to give some serious consideration about negotiating a separation agreement. You will probably need an employment law attorney to effectively accomplish this.
This is retaliation because you have said no to unwelcome sexual harassment. Both sexual harassment and retaliation are against the law. You can file a complaint with the DFEH or the EEOC but it will take a long time for them to get to an investigation of your complaint. Since it is making your job uncomfortable, you should consult with an employment law attorney who can take some immediate action on your behalf to obtain a settlement/severance to compensate you for the owner's illegal actions towards you. Most attorneys take these cases on a contingency, which means you don't pay attorney fees until you get your settlement. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation.
Even though you were in a consensual relationship, it is unlawful for this owner to harass you after it ended. If you were to make a claim of sexual harassment, any retaliation you might face would also be unlawful. It may even be possible to quit if the conditions are so intolerable that no reasonable employee would stay. You should not exercise any of your options until you consult with an experienced employment law attorney.
Mr. Kirschbaum and I are both local to you. I am sure Michael would be happy to help you as am I. Regardless of who you call, find an attorney right away and start the process to stop this constant harassment.
Good luck to you.
Pedersen Heck McQueen, APLC is an Irvine, California employee rights law firm assisting employees in all Southern California counties.
To add to Mr. Kirschbaum's and Ms. Barron's good advice:
There are practical considerations in addition to the legal issues. One difficulty in your situation is that the business owner is the one doing the unlawful harassment. He cannot be fired, transferred or disciplined for his actions, as he could if he were an employee. Another difficulty is that the restaurant is small. While I don't know what you mean by "small," it is possible that if you took the owner to court, the owner may not be able to afford to compensate you appropriately for the unlawful discrimination and harassment.
For these reasons, you need to work with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney who can negotiate an effective severance package for you. There are various things that won't cost the employer money but can be valuable to you. Such a package might include paying you a lump sum at the time of settlement AND paying a weekly amount equivalent to your wages + tips for a period of time, while you look for other work; PLUS a reference letter which describes your excellent work (not just the dates of employment, pay and title); AND an agreed-upon reason for the termination, such as lay-off (more believable these days than a voluntary quit) or something else benign. A good attorney should be able to help you come up with a way to make the severance possible for all parties.
Of course, you (through your attorney) will need to let the owner/harasser know that you are prepared to go forward with litigation . . . and you must be prepared to do so, in case the negotiation does not work. So immediately collect whatever evidence you have about the relationship (notes, cards, gifts, etc. he gave you, for example) and if you have not already, start to document everything. Keep a log of any comments, adverse actions or other funny business, starting as far back as you can remember. Write down the date, time, what was said or done, who said or did it, and any witnesses. Be sure to include any complaints or objections you made him or anyone. Keep your log at home, not at work, because you never know what will disappear. If you have witnesses, make sure you know how to reach them in the event you leave this job.
Because sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination, please look at my guide to unlawful discrimination: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe... which should help you understand lawful and unlawful discrimination, how to enforce your rights, and time limits.
To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
Marilynn Mika Spencer
The Spencer Law Firm
2727 Camino del Rio South, Suite 140
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 233-1313 telephone // (619) 296-1313 facsimile
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