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Hostile Work Environment? Delaware

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  • Hostile Work Environment? Delaware

    Hi All -
    Situation -
    I currently work for in the private sector for an large insurance company as a non-exempt client service rep. Myself and 4 other individuals work closely as a team to service a group of corporate clients. 1 co-worker has a very negative attitude and decided that he has a great dislike for me. One primary reason is that he feels that I should be a junior/subordinate member because of my younger age (25). NUMEROUS comments have been made (in front of senior adminstration) during meetings and working hours such as:
    • -"Next thing you know, everyone at <the company> will be 25 years old like <podproff>".
    • "It looks like a high school around here with a bunch of 16 year olds - you should be used to that, right, <podproff>?"
    • "I feel like a f***ing grade school teacher" (during a direct interaction between us)
    • This co-worker has told clients that they should speak to him directly because I would "screw things up". As a result, I have lost a great amount of credibility among the clients, my other co-workers, and management.
    • -Worst of all, he has blamed his own errors on me on several occassions, which has caused a huge amount of other co-workers to look at me in a negative light. Recently, when I called him on it, he stopped speaking to me entirely. Because of this, lately, I have lacked necessary information to perform my job properly.

    Although we are co-workers, this individual has a "king of the hill" status because of a long-time friendship with our boss. I have expressed my concerns to our boss in writing, and he has taken no action whatsoever. My co-workers have taken a negative attitude toward me as a result of all the complications with the situation. This has created more daily tension than I can handle, and I am strongly considering quitting as a result of all of this. I do truly enjoy the job outside of these issues, and I dont want to succumb to a workplace jerk. I have all stellar reviews from our boss, and I have put a great deal of effort into my position.

    What are my options? Do I have a grounds for legal action? How is this legal action affected if I choose to quit? Am I eligible for unemployment if I do quit?

  • #2
    Your co-worker may be a jerk but I see nothing illegal here - it's not illegal to be a jerk.

    Usually, you will not get UI if you quit.
    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.


    • #3
      A hostile work environment has a very specific meaning under the law. Nothing you have described meets that definition.

      I"m not seeing any cause of legal action. As Betty says, it is not illegal to be a jerk. In any case, under both Delaware and Federal law, age discrimination begins at 40.

      While no one but the UI office of your state can give you a definite answer, if you were to quit for the reasons you describe I would expect UI to deny your benefits in every state for which I have experience.

      You are free to take the matter up with your HR office.
      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.


      • #4
        As I have yet to not be the youngest in my department at any professional job I've held, and have still only ever supervised those older than me, I can relate to having to prove myself because of my age. It stinks, but it is possible. If you truly are a top notch employee, others are going to realize it and see this other guy for what he is. Don't get into an argument with him or try to show him up, but when he starts blaming you for things he did or making inappropriate comments, talk to him privately about them. It may not hurt to meet with him privately one on one sometime when he isn't going off to discuss how you can improve your working relationship.

        Trust me when I say that this guy is only making himself look bad with the comments he makes.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


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