Can I be forced to work with someone who has cursed at me at work?

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Can I be forced to work with someone who has cursed at me at work?

I work for a company that has 3different teams that travel to location for our work. I lead one of these teams, and so does the employee I had a problem with. Last year there was an incident on the job site where he called me several hurtful names and even went so far to say “f–k you.” This incident I reported to human resources whose first reaction was they wanted us to work it out. They decided it would be best for us to not be scheduled together, after speaking with our manager. Now, as of recently, they are pushing for us to work together again, which I am very uncomfortable with, and have even told my manager this. I am a young Caucasian female and he is an older African American male. I’m wondering what my rights are, if they can force us to work together after what happened and expressing my anxiety about it, and if this constitutes a hostile work environment?

Asked on January 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The key issue--probably the only issue--is whether you believe his hostility is directed against you because you are caucasion or female. If so, it may be illegal sex- or race-based discrimination and, as such, you may have a legal claim or cause of action if your employer will not take action.

On the other hand, if he doesn't like for any other reason--your politics, that you are young, your taste in music or clothes, etc.--there is no legal claim. The law only protects against harassment on certain narrowly defined bases.


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