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When does bullying your subordinates become harassment when you are a 1099 employee?

Sacramento, CA |

I am an independent insurance agent that is a 1099 worker. One of the supervisors, or "Coordinators" that works in my office bullies his subordinates, or "team members." Specifically, he threatens to have them fired, if they do not meet his team goals, or does not follow the rules that he sets forth. He leads new agents to believe this is possible, which it is not, but they are not aware of it. Many of the agents on his team are scared and unsure what is right or wrong and they fear being in "trouble" or being fired for not following his "rules" or meeting goals. Does this constitute harassment, or misclassification of employee status? The supervisors above this person in the corporation state that they cannot do anything about it, is this true?

Attorney Answers 6

Posted

Really depends on why the bullying is taking place.

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Posted

You need to repost your inquiry under the practice area of "Employment," so that it can be viewed by attorneys who practice in that area.

Ms. Berjis is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The laws of your jurisdiction may differ and thus this answer is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered as legal advice. Since all facts are not addressed in the question, this answer could change depending on other significant and important facts. This answer in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

A hostile work environment is a form of workplace harassment. And harassment is only illegal if it is directed against a member of a protected class (for example, if it is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information, or it is in retaliation for complaints of illegal conduct.

Being a jerk is bad management, but it isn't illegal.

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Posted

Unlikely

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Posted

It depends how the harassment takes place and how far it goes. In CA of course you're always allowed to stop working for this organization and get work elsewhere.

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Posted

Re: "...Specifically, he threatens to have them fired, if they do not meet his team goals, or does not follow the rules that he sets forth. He leads new agents to believe this is possible, which it is not..."

Threats to terminate workers for failure to meet productivity standards are not unlawful. If you are correct that it is not possible for agents to be fired from this employment on this basis, that impossibility is because of internal optional work rules, not because of legal constraints. Under CA law, any employer may terminate workers for any reason except a statutorily prohibited reason or a reason that violates public policy. Termination on the basis of failure to meet productivity measures, without more, would not violate either of these prohibitive standards.

There may indeed be a misclassification issue here, but it is unlikely that there is a viable claim for harassment or other unlawful employer conduct. Even so, you would be well advised to let these agents sort out their own work situations and potential claims. You have few if any protections in these circumstances, and you will not improve anyone else's situation by getting fired your own self.

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