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Do I have enough to form a case against my employer and what would be the correct terminology?

San Diego, CA |

Simple here are some of the issues:
-My boss makes sex(inappropriate) jokes in office
-My boss uses company paid outs to pay for her groceries, and buy her husband and son Frozen yogurt or whatever, but posts them as "staff motivation" (meaning she gave them to the employees which she never does)
-She mocks the way her employees laugh, talk or walk.
-She brings her son into work and has us babysit while we work so she can't "do her paperwork"
-She watches movies in her office while she "does her paperwork"
-She sends employees that are not authorized to take bank deposit to the bank
Several co-workers and I are unhappy with the way we are treated, but when we complained to HR. HR did nothing and My boss retaliated on us all. What do I do? *without getting a new job*

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Attorney answers 3


The only potentially actionable offense among the described behaviors is the first one. Inappropriate comments about sex, when unwelcome and sufficiently "severe or pervasive" that they result in a serious and material change in the terms, conditions, or privileges of one's employment, give rise to a claim for hostile work environment (aka "sexual harassment).

Your first problem out the gate is in proving the jokes were truly "unwelcome." This would require you to prove you told your boss that you were uncomfortable or that the jokes were so ridiculously inappropriate that no reasonable person would have thought they were acceptable.

Even if you can show that the jokes are sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a claim, what are your damages here? Have you suffered such severe emotional distress as a result of being subjected to these sex jokes that you believe a jury would issue a substantial award? Admittedly, I don't know the full story, but I think this is unlikely to be the case.

The rest of the conduct you describe certainly suggests you have a bad boss, but it's not illegal to be bad at management. Thus, unless you want to find a new job--and I see you indicate you don't--your options are to tactfully raise your complaints with your boss or HR, or to "grin and bear it," I'm afraid. I am sorry.

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.


Your post raises several issues. Hopefully I will be able to address all of them in this response. First, inappropriate sexual jokes can constitute harassment and/or discrimination. As a result, you should speak with an employment attorney about the type of conduct you are complaining about and whether it is targeted toward you, toward a specific gender or toward everyone in the office.

Second, I do not understand what you mean by "company paid outs". If your boss is taking a draw from sales, that may be acceptable. If your boss is taking tips that are earned by employees and using them for her own benefit, that would be illegal. More would need to known about this specific complaint.

Third, mocking the way individuals laugh, walk or talk is not necessarily illegal unless the mocking, or the individuals the boss is mocking, is based on a protected category, such as race, gender, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Again, more facts would need to be known.

Fourth, there is nothing illegal about bringing her son to work and, if you are asked to watch the child but being compensated for it, there is nothing necessarily improper about that either.

Fifth, if she chooses to watch movies in her office while she does paperwork, there is nothing wrong with that. That is one of the benefits she has of being the boss.

Sixth, the boss can decide who she sends to the bank to make deposits and I am not certain as to what you mean by authorized individuals. If the boss is sending them, she is giving them authorization to make the deposits.

You should speak with an employment attorney in your area to discuss what, if any, claims you may have. Many provide free consultations and work on a contingency basis. Good luck.



Let me see if I can provide a bit more information to help clear up the issues so you can understand where I am coming from. My "boss" AKA General Manager knows I do not welcome her jokes/comments. I told her repeatedly and she continues. I have documented proof and dates, times and specific details of events where she made inappropriate jokes or comments. The company I work for authorizes up to $75 worth of paid outs where the manager can use $75 (a day) of the companies money for one of the following reasons: Staff motivation, Operation supplies, or Travel mileage. Staff motivation is meant to be money used to buy items to motivate staff. Ei. lunch for staff parties, water bottles, or anything of that nature. My manager uses that $75 to buy groceries for herself or sweets/treats for her family, but at no time does she share them with employees or to motivate the staff. As far as the mocking, it makes me feel uncomfortable, she actually made me cry by the way she mocked me. She didn't apologize and yes its documented. I am a little overweight and she mocks that. According to company policy non employees aren't allowed in the office. Yet, her son and husband go in. I work with customers and I have had to carry her son in my arms will assisting a customer. also, she left her son with a coworker of mine. Said shed be back soon, but she didn't come back when she said she would. MY coworker ended up working through her 8.5 hr shift with no lunch. The area manager specifies that only General Managers or assistant general managers can take deposit. If she could authorize anyone to go she wouldn't tell them to hid and not say anything to out Area Manager. I know because she has send me. I don't know if this helps but I want to know if i will be able to fight this or if i should quit (which i don't want to do)


The terminology is "bad management." If the sexual joking reaches a point where it would be found to be unwelcomed and so severe or pervasive as to change the nature of your employment relationship, it might be sexual harassment. The rest is simply bad management, which is not unlawful.

If you want to address the sexual harassment issue, it would be prudent for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.



Thank you