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Hostile work environment Pennsylvania

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  • Hostile work environment Pennsylvania

    I work for a small municipality (Borough) in PA. I am the Borough’s only secretary/treasurer and I am apart-time employee. Two of the 7 member council are husband and wife. The wife has made my working environment almost impossible. She does everything in her power to prove that I am unfit and not doing my job. She has went through my trash, she spreads rumors about me within the Borough (we are talking only about 400 residents including children so everyone knows each other) and singles me out in meetings. She sends demeaning emails about me to the President of Counsel, and is trying everything she can do to get me fired. She has told the President of Counsel that she will motion to have me fired at every Borough meeting until she is satisfied. I have all of these emails because the President is trying to find out if there is anything she can do to stop her and is encouraging me to take action.
    The worst incident happened last year. During one of the Borough Regular Meetings she verbally attacked me. She left the meeting and came back in and continued to yell at me. I had a horrible panic attack that night and I now have to be on anxiety medication, just to be able to keep my part-time job. I take another nerve pill before meetings now and any time I know I have to be in contact with her. It is not fair that I have to be on medication just to go to work and many times I still come home from work in tears.
    We have lost several maintenance employees, 3 Counsel members, 2 Code Enforcement Officers, and we are no longer permitted by PA Career Link to get summer time help from the JTPA program because of the husband and wife. What can I do? I know because it is a Borough there are probably special laws in place and I need to know where to start. I am not interested in a legal battle if my complaint has to be against the Borough, she is the one that needs to be singled out. Please help!

  • #2
    The problem is that nothing you have described constitutes a hostile work environment under the law. It takes more than unpleasant behavior (no matter how unpleasant); it's not an HWE as defined by law unless you are being subjected to either sexual harassment or illegal discrimination under Title VII and related laws (race, religion, national origin, etc.)

    Give us more to work on. Why does she dislike you so much? What kind of rumors are we talking about? What are you doing or not doing that leads her to believe you are unfit? Even if there isn't an HWE, answers to the above might lead to some other potential answers.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Sorry, but dealing with elected officials are a whole different situation.

      They are subject to the same laws as others but they tend to carry a lot of weight and can generally make one's life miserable and you dont have a lot of recourse since they arent hired and they dont report to anyone as in a traditional work relationship.

      I'm not familiar with the PA municipal government setup (although I used to live there, I should be). Do you have a Mayor or an Administrator of some kind you could talk to? And I mean talk to very smoothly..not going in and complaining about the coucil member but saying " I feel that Council Member Smith is unhappy with me. Do you have any idea why and do you have any suggestions as to how to fix this?"
      I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
      Thomas Jefferson

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      • #4
        hostile work environment -

        http://en.wikipedia.org:80/wiki/Host...rk_environment

        However, you might want to answer the questions in the posts above.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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        • #5
          You are working in a very unpleasant work environment and that council member is hell-on-wheels but what you describe does not meet the legal definition of a hostile work environment. Your options are to (1) put up with it as best you can, (2) start looking for a new job, or (3) pursue any internal grievance process provided and lodge a complaint about her behavior towards you.

          I have all of these emails because the President is trying to find out if there is anything she can do to stop her and is encouraging me to take action. Take what action? If the council President can't reign her in, what does the President expect a part-time administrative employee to be able to do???

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          • #6
            The Mayor and three of the other members of Counsel know what is going on. The Solicitor knows as well but I guess it is a conflict for him to give me advice on the matter, and the fee for consultation would be billed to the Borough. Everyone has tried to help but no one can seem to find a solution to stop this woman.
            Do you have any other suggestions on how I can report her? At this point I am not worried about her rath, nor am I worried that the rest of Counsel will agree and vote to remove me from my job. Everyone has dealt with her crazy behavior in some way and are they are backing me 100%.
            Her recent attack was on our newspaper reporter. She is currently trying to have him fired because she doesn't think he reports accurately. The letter she sent to the newspaper stated that I agreed with her that he is not accurate in his depictions of the meetings, which is completly inaccurate.

            Originally posted by Morgana View Post
            Sorry, but dealing with elected officials are a whole different situation.

            They are subject to the same laws as others but they tend to carry a lot of weight and can generally make one's life miserable and you dont have a lot of recourse since they arent hired and they dont report to anyone as in a traditional work relationship.

            I'm not familiar with the PA municipal government setup (although I used to live there, I should be). Do you have a Mayor or an Administrator of some kind you could talk to? And I mean talk to very smoothly..not going in and complaining about the coucil member but saying " I feel that Council Member Smith is unhappy with me. Do you have any idea why and do you have any suggestions as to how to fix this?"

            Comment


            • #7
              This woman obviously has a phsychological disorder, she flips out and screams at you and then she is your best friend.
              I have a job to do, run all administrative needs of the Borough. She gives me a bunch of busy work, petty items to do. She's not supposed to do this and has been told many times to stop. Then her items don't get done because she also motioned to restrict my hours last year.

              I thought that maybe the proof of the panic attacks and being on medication, because of her actions, would be constitute the hostile work enviornment.

              Regardless of her actions, I will not be at the Borough much longer. I have almost completed my bachelors and will be seeking full time employment by this summer. However, if I don't take action on this, the Borough will continue to suffer. I have to at least make an attempt to put her in her place.

              oh and she may be an elected official, but she only had 11 votes in the last election, unfortunetly it was enough to keep her seat for another 4 years.

              Originally posted by cbg View Post
              The problem is that nothing you have described constitutes a hostile work environment under the law. It takes more than unpleasant behavior (no matter how unpleasant); it's not an HWE as defined by law unless you are being subjected to either sexual harassment or illegal discrimination under Title VII and related laws (race, religion, national origin, etc.)

              Give us more to work on. Why does she dislike you so much? What kind of rumors are we talking about? What are you doing or not doing that leads her to believe you are unfit? Even if there isn't an HWE, answers to the above might lead to some other potential answers.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not sure that this is something you can do. If multiple people know about the issue and multiple people have left because of her actions, there isnt much recourse for you.
                Nothing you mention is really illegal, just very poor management. You could contact the newpaper reporter to have the part where you are quoted for a correction if you feel its worth your job.

                Once again, since I dont know who you report to and the structure of your borough, I cant suggest anything else.

                The bottom line is they can let you go because one person in power does not like you. Thats legal. You also have the right to leave.
                I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                Thomas Jefferson

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