What constitutes workplace harassment?

UPDATED: Nov 4, 2011

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What constitutes workplace harassment?

The owner of the company I work at yelled at me in front of co-workers. They told me that I embellished my resume and can’t do anything I said I could.

Asked on November 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

While no question this is extremely unprofessional, there may not be anything that you can do about it. Workplace harassment (i.e. a hostile work environment) has to do with a words or actions made by a superior or co-worker that creates an environment that is so hostile that it prevents the employee from reasonably performing their job duties.  

However this conduct must be "discriminatory" and not just the result of unprofessional or boorish behavior.  Specifically, discrimination is action taken against an employee because they are a member of a "protected class" (i.e. their treatment must not be based on a person's race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, etc). A hostile work environment also includes retaliatory action and sexual harassment.

Based on the facts that you have presented however, your employer's remarks do not appear to rise to the level of an actionable claim. Unless that is, discrimination is involved (as discussed above), there is a stated company policy covering such a situation or you are protected by an employment/union agreement to the contrary.

Still, you may want to consult directly with an employment law attorney and go over all details of your case. They can best advise at you your rights/remedies, if any.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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