At what point does feeling afraid to come forward because people have been fired for less become a hostile work environment?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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At what point does feeling afraid to come forward because people have been fired for less become a hostile work environment?

My wife routinely comes home in tears because of her management and the section she works in. She is routinely told that she must perform duties that are not part of her job to the detriment of her actual job and then reprimanded for not being able to do it all. There is a lot to consider in this particular circumstance in as much as several other employees have been removed from their positions for this same issue. As upper management was made aware of these issues, the phrases,

Asked on August 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A hostile work enviornment has to do with a co-workers's behavior (either words or actions) that makes it difficult for an employee to reasonably perfom their job duites, and is based on that employee's race, religion, disability age (over 40), national origin, gender or the like. You did not indicate such to be the case in your wife's situation. Therefore, while unprofessional, her treatment does not give rise to a legal claim. The fact is that most employment is "at will" which means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit. The only exception being if such conditions breached the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. Unfortunately her only options are to put up with this treatment, complain but risk termination, or quit.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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