Legal Help? Workplace Bullying. No Lame Answers, Please?

by admin on September 2, 2010

My boyfriend has been working at the same establishment for six years. Ever since the original owner died, the sons took over. His sons then put someone else in charge of the department that my boyfriend works in. My boyfriend’s boss has been threatening to fire him, and has been giving him write-ups for things like using the restroom or getting drinks from the bar when he is thirsty. My boyfriend also has chronic back problems from a car accident we got into seven months ago. His boss won’t allow him to get up from his desk and walk around to stretch, even though it is doctor’s orders for him to do so. His boss has been aggressive and verbally abusive.

If we are to take legal action, would this be a legitimate case? And who exactly would we sue — my boyfriend’s boss, or the owners of the establishment? Serious answers only, please.
From what I know, it has also been happening to other employees. He works as the starter and a golf course, and apparently the troller out by the cart barn has been broken and is leaking gas. The guys that work at the cart barn have been complaining about it, but nothing is being done. This gas leak is a hazardous situation. There is also another employee working as the other starter on the opposite end of the course and he urinates in a water bottle because his boss won’t let them use the restroom. That’s disgusting.

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PurpleFish September 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

You may be able to get legal representation over the back issue, as your boyfriend should be entitled to take a break and get up and walk around due to his disability. He can talk to a lawyer about this first and see if he has a good case or not.

As for the rest, it is difficult for one employee to find legal representation against an employer unless the abuse is blatant and has been clearly documented or recorded, ie. a manager sexually harassing a worker caught on security tape or in front of witnesses, the manager using racial slurs against more than one employee in an e-mail or a letter, or a manager barring an employee from taking necessary breaks due to their disability that causes the disability to become worse.

This is because what it comes down to is your word (an employee) against theirs (a supervisor or a manager). A lot of the time, people will sympathize with the manager because when something goes wrong, or a complaint comes up, everyone tends to assume that the manager is telling the truth because they have "more experience", often the managers will also have friends in high places in the industry who will back up any claims of innocence they might have. This casts a bad light the employee who gets brushed aside and is labeled a "bad apple" or a "complainer". This is not fair, and it happens to millions of people every day at their jobs. And I am sorry that your boyfriend is going through this.

You can see that those situations are highly specific, and one would have to have cold hard evidence to sue. Currently, the law protects the managers–not the employees. Is it fair? Absolutely not. But that is how things are at the moment. So basically, no, you probably will not be able to get legal representation against your boyfriend’s boss for being a horrible person. He can, however, try to get the big bosses to fire him by proving that he is costing their business money, and that they will lose good employees if they don’t do something about him.

What he and the other workers can do is start keeping records of everything. Write down everything that happens to them. Write down the date, and the time that it happened to them and what the boss did. Documentation will eventually be your weapon, and the more employees you get to do this the stronger your boyfriend’s (and the coworkers’) case is. It’s easy for the big boss to ignore one employee’s complaints and brush it off as "just someone being cranky" than it is for them to brush off three or four unhappy workers, all with similar complaints about their manager or supervisor. All with documentation stating the offense, the date, and the time it occurred.

So my advice for your boyfriend is to start documenting everything. Every single abuse he suffers at the hands of his boss. Then get him to tell his coworkers to document everything that they suffer as well. Once you’ve gathered up a reasonable amount of evidence, your boyfriend and his coworkers should confront the big bosses (the sons in this case, I guess) and tell them what’s happened. Give them copies of their documentation of the abuses they’ve suffered, not the originals. You never know how someone will react when presented with evidence like this though but I hope things work out in his favor.

Josh September 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

Unfortunately, being an asshole isn’t grounds for a lawsuit. Perhaps a lawyer could get them on the Americans with Disability Act — the back thing.

mnwomen September 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

Why does your boyfriend not go to the owner and talk to them about the problem? Until he tries to resolve the problem there is no reason to sue anyone. They do not have to allow him to go to the restroom or get drinks whenever he wants. That’s what a break is for. Lots of bosses threaten to fire but he has not been fired has he? As to the back problem I find it hard to believe they will not let him get up, but if he has a problem doing the job he was hired to do then they can fire him.

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