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What are the steps to take when being verbally harassed at work?

Albany, NY |

I work in the human resources department and my boss is a director. On a weekly basis I am being yelled at (where other staff members have heard the noise and sometimes the conversation), being told she regrets hiring me, I need to get my life together (I don't talk about my personal life at work), there is no way I earned my degrees due to how stupid I come across, that I'm doing nothing right (Even after asking for additional training since I'm a new hire), and that I never asked questions regarding projects. I now send all questions/need for training via email. I was pulled into the office and told to stop emailing because it's not professional last week. I fear retailation if I speak to her boss. I know my boss would just get verbally worse. Any advice?

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Attorney answers 5


This is more an issue of office politics because there is no law to protect employees from bosses who act like SOB's. For whatever reason, it sounds like your boss has already decided that she wants you gone. If you think there is any type of discriminatory motive behind her attitude, you should have a consultation with an employment attorney.


Consult an employment lawyer.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


The law doesn't require bosses to me kind. I don't think you have a lawsuit. Look for work elsewhere.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


As an HR professional I am sure that you know what "at will employment" means and the implications of it on your rights. If you believe (and have tangible evidence) that your boss is treating you badly because of a "suspect classification" (age, race, creed, ethnicity, disability, sex, sexual choice or irrelevant criminal record) then you may have a way of addressing this treatment. In addition, there is a growing body of law that supports under some situations claims of wokplace bias because of a person's life style (ie....single mother etc...) You have mentioned that your boss tells you to "get your life together." While based on the facts that you have given it is unclear what she is referring to, this could be the basis of some type of bias and a viable claim. However, more facts would need to be known about what your boss is referencing when he/she says this.

I would recommend that you contact an experienced employment discrimination attorney in your area. Many, including my firm, offer a free initial consultation so you have nothing to lose.

Good luck

No attorney client relationship has been created by this answer.


Is your boss only subjecting you to abuse, or are other employees in HR also being subjected to abuse? (Is she also subjecting employees of different genders, nationalities, religions, etc to abuse too?)

Is your boss’s behavior causing you to seek medical attention due to adverse effects on your health?

It’s best you consult an experienced employment lawyer right away to go over your facts in detail, including responses to the above 2 questions.

You should not confront your boss about her behavior without obtaining advice from an experienced employment lawyer.

Denise K. Bonnaig

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