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Is This A Hostile work environment?

by Lisa
(Omaha, Nebraska)

I’ve worked for Wal-Mart for almost 2 years, quickly moving up in my department. I worked in the bakery and started as a bread packager and ended with being the bakery supervisor. I always did my share of work plus more. When the last supervisor left he asked me personally to apply for the position. After getting the job the manager that was over me left on a leave of absence, giving me about 3 days of training. I did everything that was asked of me, even though I was very short staffed. I was handling the work load of 3 people; I was leaving later and later sometimes working 12 hour shifts then getting warnings for working so late. When I cut back on staying late (but still working my scheduled shifts) I was getting talked to for not completing the work. After a month my manager came back and was terminated, and was replaced by a man that talks to people as if they were infants. He was always telling people that they were a nuisance and that we just got in the way. At wal-mart they have an “open door policy” where you are supposed to be able to go to any manager in a confidential manner and tell them anything with out being “told on”. A week before I quit my manager pulled me and a guy that I was having a problem with in a room and told the guy everything I said and pretty much told me that I needed to grow some teeth and stop being a whiner. He then asked me to step down and asked me to become a cake decorator; I gladly accepted telling him I couldn’t handle the stress of the position. He then told me if I didn’t step down there would be corrective action taken against me to terminate me (this was said after I had already agreed to step down). He had told me that he didn’t want me in the position because my previous manager hired me and they needed to “weed out” the people she hired. He has put unrealistic goals on me while talking down and bad mouthing me. The day before I quit he had me in tears at work. I have lost sleep and have become physically ill over the whole situation. I honestly couldn’t take it anymore; it was taking a toll on me and my family. I have never been talked to or treated the way that man did. I know of at least 3 people that can be witnesses for me, but they are worried about losing their jobs if they do. I’m not sure what I need from the witnesses, if anything. Is there anyway that they can do this anonymously so they don’t have any actions taken against them. Can I even file for unemployment? Not sure what to do thanks for your time.

Hi Lisa,

Unemployment departments do not determine whether there was a "hostile work environment" with the same standards the EEOC would determine a hostile work environment due to some sort of discriminatory behavior by an employer.

Rather unemployment determines whether the working conditions would be intolerable to a similarly "reasonable person" such as yourself.

And they are always very interested in the "final incident" that moved an individual to quit their job.

It's true that a termination can
come as a surprise and you might not have been able or even given the opportunity to act with foresight, but when one voluntarily quits a job .. it is assumed that a "reasonable person" would make efforts to "preserve the job" unless the final incident was so egregious as to overcome this standard of law .. which is really up to the discretion and personal judgment of whatever person is in control of making a determination or decision on your UI benefits.

When I use the words "counter document" I'm talking about making an issue of a workplace reality through the grievance channels most employers outline in the employee handbook.

A sad fact about at will employment is that most states think a reasonable person should stay in a job right up to the point of termination .. even if you know in your heart the employer's warnings and write-ups or other disciplines are intended to end your employment one way or the other.

This is why a voluntary quit in "anticipation" of discharge is nearly always disqualifying.

Finding Co-workers Willing To Testify

There is no other subject that confirms as much, the fact that American employees feel bullied, threatened and intimidated about keeping their jobs for doing what is morally, the correct thing to do.

They cannot help you if they remain anonymous.

They have to be a witness at a hearing or at least sign a statement and they must be identified as a witness to be of any use to you.

This is a daily recurring theme for me when I'm talking to someone during one of my "unemployment hearing coaching sessions.

I always ask:

Since you do not have any documentation to prove you made efforts through the company grievance policy .. do you have a former co-worker that would be willing to testify on your behalf to these conditions you are telling me about?

They almost always answer:

Well, I don't think so. They would be to afraid the employer would fire them ..

Or, they simply are not willing to ask for for fear of putting someone's job in jeopardy.

Ironically, testifying for a former co-worker and then later being retaliated against for testifying creates the possibility for legitimacy of claims of retaliation should the employer start harassing them or disciplining them for bogus reasons with the intent of ending their employment.

Until "employees" get a backbone and start standing up for each other in this country, bullying and intimidation will continue to run rampant and unchecked.

So, in the final analysis Lisa, I know hostile and intolerable workplaces are commonplace, but I also know they will continue to exist until the ordinary everyday American worker .. Says ENOUGH.

The problem is that it takes COURAGE to stand up for what is right .. and an attitude of job and unemployment benefits be damned.

You are one of those I know without a doubt, would be better served by having professional hearing representation .. because whether it's you or the employer .. there will most likely be, an unemployment appeal hearing.

Which will be by phone in Nebraska and an attorney is not required.

Whatever happens Lisa, I wish you the best and although being unemployed is a financial struggle, I commend you for having the courage to say ENOUGH. I just wish those still employed would do the same.


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Jun 07, 2011
the she-devil at work
by: Anonymous

i work at a daycare,where kids are tops. I also work with a she-devil.She has stabbed my tire (no proof) but in my gut i know it was her.

In dec i had a heart attack then i got msra she told some of my other coworkers she could put a hex on me to have another attack she has called me a bitch will ease drop on my conversations with other coworkers i have went to my boss about all of this no write ups or nothing has been done everyone at the daycare knows that our boss is scared of her. Her husband is a drug dealer we guess that's why she says or does nothing is this Would this not be consider to be hostile?


Hostile, at least to me, is a catchall word for a workplace where the employer allows the continuation of behavior which violates protected rights or activities which would be illegal behavior.

Or unreasonable behavior met with an unreasonable reaction by the employer.

Which is of course what I think this is.

Nonetheless, if you are considering whether you should quit or not .. you should be well prepared to not just prove this she-devil has continued to harass you, but be able to prove that you have made your employer aware of this all and prove that the employer has done nothing.

So, although you can't prove the tire stabbing .. was there a police report?

Will anyone testify to corroborate the name calling and the threats of harm to you .. although threatening a hex .. seems a little out there the desire to see harm come to you should be clear.

And most importantly, the employers reactions which have amounted to zero .. need to be proven.

In unemployment .. actual illegal harassment does not have to occur before "unreasonableness" enters the picture.

Were back to the "reasonable person standard" which is a common test when someone quits.

What would any "reasonable person" placed in this similar situation do?

Would they react the same as you? What efforts might they make first before quitting?

What would be a reasonable response from the employer?

Etc., etc., etc.,

Which is why people get different results from unemployment when they quit jobs.

There are many variances because people do different things and have different tolerance levels.

And, there are always the differences in the people that have to judge the facts as to what is reasonable and what is not.

Dec 12, 2010
Stand up for what is right!
by: Heather

You are right Chris! Most employees do not stand up for what is right. When I lost my job due to retaliation, the other 4 co-workers who had filed complaints with me backed out and left me standing alone. I still stood up for what is right. I got fired and now none of my friends from my previous job won't even talk to me because they were told that if they had anything to do with me that they would be fired. If employees would just stick together no matter how rough things got then it would take some of the power away that the employer does have in these matters. The one former employee who did stick by my side got fired three days after my appeal hearing when/where my employer found out that this employee was helping me. He was denied unemployment too but hopefully this employee who never had a single problem in 9 years will be able to show that he was suddenly fired a few days after my hearing where the employer found out he was helping me...

Hi Heather,

Nice to hear from you again:)

I used to have a page .. I might even still have it somewhere .. anyway, I wrote something about the fact that I'd rather live in a tent and forage for nuts and berries than be an employee again (I'm personally, given to overstatement at times .. especially when I'm thinking of my own experiences as an employee :)

But, the point of that statement was entirely driven by what I know to be true for myself.

Some people want to know what they can do to combat a workplace bully, but not as often as lofty employer types look for the root causes of low employee morale. For me, this answer is simple .. it is caused by both a lack of respect from an employer, but mostly a lack of self-respect to tolerate being treated as a "human resource" only.

When I started this website .. I wanted to let employees in on how unemployment really works.

But, in truth .. that might just be the corrupted cherry on top of the corrupted cake of employment.

The inspirations to find ways to stand against workplace bullies, will never be found in the ranting and ravings about workplace bullying or the simple instructions of how to stand against it.

We need stories from people that share the journeys that made them realize it's not the bully with power over us .. it's our own fears.

We humans can be our own worst enemy everyday .. when we should be our own best champion.

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