Verbally abusive boss has caused me so much stress that I have been on sick leave for 3 months
I am in NY. My boss is also the owner of the small company I have been working with for just about a year.
He has been verbally abusive to me including yelling at me (with a red face) in front of my co-workers.
He is sarcastic and insulting to me.
He treats me like a defendant rather than an employee. He acts like he is trying to "catch" me in a lie but I have never done anything to warrant this.
He often poses questions which are actually designed so that he can attack after I respond. In other words, there are no correct answers. For example "Do you think you should have done that?"...either way I respond will lead to him yelling at me in a raised voice.
He ridicules my ideas.
He discusses me with another employee.
He shows outright favoritism toward another employee and will buy her lunch and pay for her car repairs. (we suspect hanky panky)
I became very ill with intestinal issues that eventually required surgery. My doctors feel that my work situation greatly aggravated my medical issues. I have been on disability for 3 months.
A week after my disability started I went on a pre-scheduled vacation. He has refused to pay my vacation pay for that week. He verbally promised me 2 weeks vacation when I was hired and had already paid me for the first week. He now denies that he ever agreed to vacation time. I do have a witness to that promise.
I found out that he has already cleaned out my desk. It's completely cleared of all files, personal items, etc.
He told a business contact that he planned to get rid of me and told him that he doesn't trust me. I brought many business contacts to aid his business and now he is ruining my good name.
I am cleared to return to work next week but I am having severe anxiety attacks whenever I think about it.
I feel that he plans to fire me but I do not want to subject myself to another round of
verbal abuse. I sent him a letter that said "I know you plan to terminate me and I accept the decision" and I included 2 pages of complaints about his behavior. He responded by sending an email that said "You are not terminated" and he is demanding that I report to his office next week. He said I must come alone and specifically said I cannot bring my husband. I had no plans to bring anyone but the guy is paranoid.
I am having trouble breathing right now at the very thought of going to his office. Do I have a case to get unemployment?
Yes probably so, but as I tell people all the time in your situation .. "what's going on extends beyond just a matter of whether you can get unemployment"
Your situation is one of workplace harassment. You need to be able to show it for harassment to avoid a finding you did not have good cause because you were being overly sensitive.
The fact that you are on disability now and under a doctor's care put's you into a protected class and you need to know this alone can be powerful stuff to know and use prior to becoming unemployed for purposes of unemployment benefits.
By the way, just because he told you that you should come alone really doesn't mean you need to come alone, if you want to bring a lawyer with you, or something like that.
Some of the things you've mentioned aren't a clear violation of any employee right, but personality flaws, but doesn't negate the fact he has authority over you as your boss and business owner.
So focus on specifics that a reasonable person would not consider reasonable.
If that means you need to do some research to you learn what your rights are and identify anything the employer may be doing wrong, then so be it.
Why do you think business owners employ HR professionals, but to keep them in legal compliance and avoid financial liability risks, at least when the employer is willing to listen to reason anyway.