I have been at work verbally harrassed, and cursed out by a very unprofessional, childish co-worker. A work for a temp agency and the co-worker is permanent. I have informed management of every incident, to no aval. they have not moved this co-worker who sits right next to me at work (we are in a call center) and is still allow the disrepectful nature continue. I am african-american and I feel that my concerns are not being respected because they feel I may have something to do with deserving this. What should I do>?
As an at-will employee in Florida (without a written contract for a term or a union agreement), you can be treated with disrepect or worse without any cause of action. If the way you are being treated is based on your gender, age, religion, national origin, race, disability or pregnancy then you might have a discrimination claim if management does not do anything after you report it. However, you would need some facts to lead an attorney to believe the way the co-worker is treating you is due to race; not just because he doesn't like you even if it's not your fault. if you have such facts, speak to a lawyer. If not, unfortunately, a nasty co-worker or even a boss is called "bad boss syndrome" and leaves one with no legal rights.
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.
Employees have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. Please look at my Avvo guide to at-will employment which may help you understand your rights now and in the future: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states.
Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated.
The only workplace discrimination that is illegal is discrimination that is against public policy. Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. Under federal law, public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status, pregnancy and genetic information. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination. There is no federal protection for sexual orientation discrimination, but many states provide this protection.
Public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, and a few more rights protected by statute.
An employer cannot change terms of employment or fire an employee if the reason for the change is against the law (against public policy). For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. or because you blew the whistle on safety violations.
There are various ways to enforce these rights, depending on the particular public policy involved.
For more information on employment discrimination, please see my Avvo guide on this subject: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-is-unlawful-employment-discrimination--federal-law?published=true
Employment law is complicated and fact specific. You may wish to consult with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney in your state. 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 www.nela.org, 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. ***
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