You are a hard worker in your company for many years and feels valued at work. One day, you have a new boss has drastically changed your work environment. Your new boss has a bad temper but he always raises his voice at everyone. He seems to be particularly harsh at you especially in front of others. Believe it or not, this experience is not unique in today's workplace environment. This is called the hostile workplace environment.
There are really two types of hostile work environments. It is either legal or illegal. In a legal hostile work environment, your boss can act like a complete jerk and still get away with it. He may make you feel stress out with his unfair treatment or he may shout at you and even blame you for whatever happens at the company. In the worst case, he can even terminate you for doing a bad job.
On the other hand, an illegal hostile work environment only applies to protected classes of employees. These include issues like hostile treatments against employees from different races, religions, gender, age and even disable employees. So, if you fall under any of these categories of employees, you are considered part of the legally protected classes. So, your boss cannot unfairly treat you hostilely if you belong to any of these classes.
You must understand that the law does not require a boss to play nice. The only recourse is to be part of these protected classes. In the case of Oncale v. Sundowner, the Supreme Court ruled that federal employment law is not "a general civility code for the American workplace." That means you are not expected to be polite to anyone at the workplace. Being polite is merely a matter of courtesy, not a requirement.
You may feel that you deserve some legal protection against rude bosses but there is really law against these behaviors. He may be a bully at work who bulldozes his way through, but he is acting in his legal capacity so long as has not stepped the line into the classes mentioned.
All this may seem unfair but there is a way to protect yourself. The only way is by learning about your legal rights in the workplace. In particular, you need to learn about the protected classes. This will quickly make a simple case of bullying into an illegal hostile work environment.
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