What makes for workplace harassment and a hostile work environment?

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2012

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What makes for workplace harassment and a hostile work environment?

I am a custodian for a local school system. The “building manager,” who is my boss is a difficult/dramatic individual. If he’s not complaining about what we do, he complains about how we’re doing it. He makes negative remarks about my co-workers, and me, I’m sure. He accuses us of abusing the equipment by kicking it – untrue. He made a comment on how I walk. (I’m male and he said, “You walk like a girl” – Harassment?) There’s unfair practices pertaining to scheduling of overtime. (Some are required to work, some are not) And the list goes on and on. All are daily and ongoing occurrences. They’ve already had to replace 10 – 15 custodians the past 5 years and all current custodians are looking for work elsewhere. I believe this too be harassment and a hostile work environment. If I am correct, what can I do about it?

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to write down everything that is occurring, when it is occurring and if there were witnesses to each time something happens. You may wish at this point to consult with a labor lawyer and see if this is a case that person can take and handle for you. If so, other former custodian employees at this location may need to be contacted and deposed by your attorney to begin setting a record for the record to show the custom and practice of workplace harassment or hostile working conditions. The one thing you do not want to do is give up. However, just like everyone else, you may wish to quietly begin looking for work elsewhere but also see if this would impact your current case.

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