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How do I know if I'm facing illegal discrimination?

Are good working relationships better for employers or employees?  After all, good relationships between employees and supervisors can be helpful for moral, productivity and an overall healthy culture within the workplace. When employees are satisfied with their jobs they tend to work better and become higher achievers. What employer wouldn’t want that?

Unfortunately, some workers must deal with constant adversarial relationships with their co-workers and supervisors. Difficult relationships may be based on jealousy, petty arguments or even warped senses of subservience. This may lead to continual disagreements, a substantial level of dissatisfaction in the workplace, and ultimately the loss of a job.

An employee may want to pursue a lawsuit against their former employer after being unceremoniously dismissed or being subjected to a prickly supervisor’s constant barbs. However, a key question in these disputes is whether the employer’s (or supervisor’s) behavior is actionable as a matter of law. Many plaintiffs automatically believe that if a supervisor or fellow employee is rude or disrespectful, such behavior can form the basis of a lawsuit.

After all, an employee who is constantly being singled out, harassed or treated in a demeaning manner must be victim of illegal discrimination, right? This should be especially true when the victimized employee is a member of a protected class.

Unfortunately, the law does not require supervisors to be warm, kind or understanding. With that, claims against an employer for not being nice may not be actionable under New York state law. However, if it can be shown that this type of behavior is directed towards people of a protected class, or is based on a person’s feelings about such a class, an employment discrimination suit may be way to seek a remedy. Moreover, if such behavior is condoned by an employer, this may form the basis of a lawsuit

Indeed, it is not always easy to determine when rude statements or prickly personalities cross the line from poor management and disrespect to illegal discrimination. There are several variables to consider, from the exact words or actions and the employer’s response in addressing an employee’s complaints. Because of this, it is prudent to discuss your situation with an experienced employment law attorney.

The preceding is not legal advice.

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