What are my rights if a boss verbally abuses me?

UPDATED: Jul 29, 2011

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What are my rights if a boss verbally abuses me?

I am a teenager who works at a restaurant. A manager came into the break room, accused me of making a mistake, and began cussing at me and swinging a dirty rag at me in front of other co-workers. Could this be classified as creating a hostile work environment, and what are my rights?

Asked on July 29, 2011 Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is a common misconception that an employer cannot create a hostile work environment. That is not true: an employer or its supervisors can be as unpleasant, rude, hostile, insulting, demeaning, etc. as it wants to be, and employees who don't want to be subject to that behavior have the "right" to quit and seek other employment. There are some exceptions, but they are limited: there is no harassing an employee because of a specifically protected characteristic, such as race, sex, religion, disability, or age over 40  (there is no legal age-related protection for being a teenager). But part from those exceptions, work can legally be a thoroughly unpleasant and hostile place.

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