I am working a new job. I have been there for 6 months now.
My boss (branch manager) has been there for 17 years.
A co worker who I will call Chris is his right hand man has been there for 10 years.
Plenty of bad things have happened and there isn't enough space here to itemize them all out.
Point is Chris is on drugs. I know have seen him do them every day.
Problem is my Boss backs him up no matter what.
We all ready lost a employee who Chris had a physical altercation with because of anger and mood swing.
I have heard my boss make comments about him and drugs.
I also am sure Chris is stealing things at work and selling them.
I have seen my Boss do inventory cycles and counts and they are way off and he fixes them.
I know he knows everything but does nothing.
When my boss takes time off I am alone with Chris. My boss puts him in charge. It is a nightmare. If he wasn't able to get any drugs for the day he does nothing and is miserable and makes me do everything. It is a very physical job. I can't say no because I did and my Boss was all over me for saying no. Said no doesn't work for me. I can film the drug use happens every day. I am at wits end
This sounds like a workplace you would do well to be rid of, but it does not meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment. "Hostile work environment" is a technical legal term that applies ONLY in the context of employment discrimination. As long as Chris-the-Druggie and Boss-the-Enabler are not discriminating against anyone, they can behave as badly as they like, and it still won't be a hostile work environment.
I agree you need to get away from that job to protect yourself. If however there is a management structure that your "boss" answers to documenting the situation and reporting it up the line may just be a public service .
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As Attorney Baker points out, your fact pattern does not meet the definition of a "hostile work environment"
Perhaps you need to speak to someone above your supervisor's paygrade. Photographs of the drug use should be convincing to the owner. I suggest that you document your attempts to bring this matter to the attention of management and, if you are retaliated against and lose your job, then I suggest you seek out an employment attorney to see if you have any type of a whistleblower claim.
Legal Disclaimer: If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
Everyone has heard this term "hostile work environment." It comes out of the law of employment discrimination. It arose out of gender discrimination cases, and refers to a work environment so permeated with catcalls, cheesecake posters, sexually charged horsing around, etc., as to completely alter the conditions of employment depending upon what gender you belong to.
Similarly, a racially "hostile work environment" refers to a racially charged atmosphere, where the terms and conditions of employment are different depending upon what race you belong to.
Garden-variety hostility in a work environment does not constitute a "hostile work environment" in a sense that gives rise to employment discrimination claims. The law does not entitle workers to a workplace that is free of hostility--that's the misconception that many people have. The law entitles workers to a workplace where they are not being discriminated against on the basis of sex, race, national origin, disability, in Vermont sexual orientation, age, or religion. What you describe is a coworker who your boss gives authority over you, a coworker that gives you a hard time and who has a drug problem, and a boss who has an alliance with your coworker. This doesn't give rise to an employment discrimination claim as the law understands it. Employers are not required to treat their workers fairly or wisely; they are free to treat them unfairly and unwisely, so long as they do not run afoul of the law by engaging in unlawful discrimination or other unlawful conduct.
You don't say much about your co-worker's drug use, and whether it involves illegal drugs or not. It is hard to tell you what to do. If you have knowledge of someone's illegal drug use, you may report that illegal conduct to law enforcement, which will independently decide whether to do nothing or do something. If employer retaliates by firing you for making such a report, it may give rise to a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. But that may be cold comfort during the long period you are out of work and during the miserable period during which you are suing the employer, with no assurance that a jury would find you were discharged for that reason, or mainly for that reason. So I cannot recommend either for or against such a report.
Sometimes the best remedy for a situation you can't bear at work is to pound the pavement and find a better job. I wish you well.
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