Is it OK for your boss to humiliate you in front of co-workers by poking you in the forehead repeatedly and telling you to use your little pea brain?

UPDATED: Jan 4, 2013

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Is it OK for your boss to humiliate you in front of co-workers by poking you in the forehead repeatedly and telling you to use your little pea brain?

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no question but that your boss's behavior is unprofessional (not to mention personally hurtful). However, there may not be anything that you can do about it. Workplace harassment (also referred to as a "hostile work environment") has to do with actions and/or words made by a superior and/or co-worker that create an environment that is so hostile that it prevents the employee from reasonably performing their job duties.

Tha having been said, this conduct must be "discriminatory" and not merely the result of boorish behavior. Specifically, discrimination is action taken against an employee because he/she is a member of a "protected class". In other words, their treatment must not be based on a person's religion, age, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, etc). A hostile work environment can also include retaliatory action and sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, based on the facts presented, your employer's remarks do not appear to rise to the level of an actionable claim. That is unless (as outlined above) discrimination is involved, there exisits company policy covering such a situation or you are protected by an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary.

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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