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My boss is mean to me. Do I have an employment law case?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination

It depends. If certain conditions are met, you may have a hostile work environment, discrimination or harassment case. “Hostile work environment” is a widely misunderstood concept, and many people do not know what counts as harassment at work. Additionally, workers sometimes confuse poor treatment by their boss as discrimination, but that only applies in specific situations.

Hostile work environment

An unhappy workplace is not necessarily a hostile work environment. You may be in a hostile work environment if you are being sexually harassed or harassed based on your inclusion in a protected class. The harassment must be so severe that it interferes with the performance of your job.

Employment discrimination

If you experience discrimination in the workplace, you may have a valid claim. You must, however, be a member of a protected class and be discriminated against because of any of these factors:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Sex, gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy
  • Age

The law also protects whistleblowers from discrimination and employer retaliation.

If you experience discrimination because of any of these issues, you may have a workplace discrimination case.


Is a coworker or supervisor sexually harassing you? Sexual harassment is the most common type of workplace harassment, but you can be harassed for being part of any protected class. This behavior should not be tolerated by the employer. You may have a harassment case in these situations.

What is not harassment, discrimination or a hostile work environment?

Sometimes workers assume that any discord or strife at work can be grounds for a lawsuit, but that is not true.

Basically, your boss or coworkers can treat you poorly and there’s no legal recourse if you are not in a protected class, being illegally harassed or experiencing employer retaliation. In these situations, you may want to seek help from your employer’s human resources department and see if there is anything they can do for you.