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Hostile work environment in WA state? What are my rights and what should be happening in this situation?

Gig Harbor, WA |

I am a regional director for a large corporation. We hold an annual corporate-wide event over a weekend. After the most recent event, two employees who report to one of my managers told several other employees that I and another manager are having a sexual affair. We are not, and in fact, this employee is in an seminary and has no physical contact with any women. This was reported to my supervisor and to our HR department who are investigating. We have both been told that it may be that we were not modeling good leadership - which is not true. The employees also made remarks about one of our VPs being too "drunk to walk down the hall" and that she has thyroid cancer - which is true but wasn't common knowledge.

I believe that such rumors will impact my ability to do my job. Thank

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Attorney answers 1


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.

I'm sorry this is happening. I'm sure it's frustrating and frightening. The answer to your question will turn on specific facts. The Avvo board is not really set up to handle the kind of detailed analysis that is needed in your situation. Avvo works best for short, specific questions that allow for short, specific answers. Perhaps more importantly, anyone can read the discussions on Avvo so they are not confidential. Your employer or whomever you are in a dispute with can read everything written here.

Also, it appears your situation needs more than a legal analysis. Strategy will be important here, too. You know the players and no one on Avvo does. It makes sense to take your situation to a private, experienced plaintiffs employment attorney and spend some time going over things. It sounds like your position if fairly high, and you may make a good income. If so, don't risk it by getting quick advice here on Avvo from attorneys who are only speculating about the facts. Give your situation the respect it deserves. Spending a few thousand dollars now is far less costly than losing your job.

To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in your area, please go to the web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.

Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and in many cities. On the NELA web site, you can look at the list of affiliates. Some attorneys will be listed in the affiliate membership list, some in the national organization membership list, and some in both. Being listed in one or both lists should not influence your selection because attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase the listing in the national directory. Each local affiliate has its own rules for listing.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

*** 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. ***