What legal actions can I take when I submitted a complaint about an employee a week later Iwas given a lay-off letter?

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What legal actions can I take when I submitted a complaint about an employee a week later Iwas given a lay-off letter?

I have been having problems with another employee treating me unfairly for awhile. She is not a supervisor and we are both administrative assistants. She is the assistant to the program manager (who’s decision it was on who to lay me off) and best friends. She always told me what to do all the time and I was tired of it (I have 3 pages, documented with everything she was saying or doing to me). I put up with it and told myself it would get better. It did not. I finally had enough and complained to my supervisor(I did not give her my documentation but I told her some of what was going on). She listened, said she would talk to her and contact HR. Less than 2 weeks later, I was given a lay-off letter with 4 others. I then asked my supervisor what the status was with the complaint about the other employee and she said that since there were the lay-offs they felt they would not go further with the complaint so they did not contact HR. I asked her I wanted it to be documented and she said it was with her. I then told my her the day after the notice of lay-offs, the person I complained about is walking around the office so happy like she won the lottery. Decorating for Christmas in back of my desk, joking around in front of me with others, being insensitive to my feelings(I am not in a festive mood right now). So my supervisor said she would contact HR and get back to me. A couple days later she said they have a solution but has not yet told me.I’m afraid to hear the next solution….I might be out sooner. I am having medical issues now. I cannot sleep, I feel shaky, have anxiety all the time. Should I call my doctor to have that documented also? Should I report this to OSHA? Would this be under “whistleblower act”? Hire a lawyer? But to be honest I do not have money to pay a lawyer. I also have spoken to the 3 others who received lay-off letters and they too had reported a complaint to their supervisor or HR.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If you don't have an employment contract, you are an employee at will, and may be terminated at any time, for any reason, even unfair ones, so long as--

1) your termination was not the result of discriminating against you because of your race, religion, sex, age over 40, or disability (under federal law; your state's law *may* add additional categories, such as sexual orientation or  national origin);

2) you were not fired for making a specifically protected claim, such as for overtime or that you were being discriminated against, as set out in 1), above; or

3) you were not fired for using a protected specifically benefit, such as taking FMLA leave;

4) you were fired for brignging to light a legal violation, such as the company's violating tax or safety law.

However, there is no protection for complaining against a coworker; there is no requirement that an employer take a complaint against coworker seriously (unless it was for a legal violation or discrimination as per 1), above). If  you complained about a coworker and the boss(es) like her better than you, for example, they may fire you, unfortunately.

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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