I have reported numerous emails from a coworker who demeans and insults me via email. Each time he tells the boss he will change and then a month goes by and I start receiving demeaning emails. We made an agreement that we would not engage in back and forth emails, but there are times where we have to in order to get work done while the boss is unavailable. Those are the times where he attacks me and disrespects me. The last time I finally stopped biting my tongue and told him he is harassing me and being inconsiderate. He then told me I am harassing him, and I have NEVER insulted or offended him in the year I've worked there and he's probably done it in at least 30 emails so far.
I am a California attorney and not eligible to give legal advice in your state. My comments are for information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT PROVIDE SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I refer to your state's laws, that only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that appeared relevant. You should not rely on any comment I make regarding your state's law. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state.
Your coworkers conduct might violate your employer's policies, but unless the content disparages you due to membership in a protected category, it's not illegal. Unlawful harassment must be based on a protected category, such as race, sex, religion, disability, age (40 and over), pregnancy, or genetic information. Harassment can include verbal conduct, slurs, derogatory comments, comments or questions about a person's body, appearance, religious, or sexual activity. 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.
Keep after your HR department to deal with this person's communications. Let HR know it is interfering with the orderly flow of work and costing the company money in wasted personnel time.
Good luck with this annoying situation.
*** 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. ***
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