1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Hostile work environment, retaliation for filing complaint and discrimination

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by Roy Gabriel Hernandez, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. Roy Gabriel Hernandez

    Roy Gabriel Hernandez Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Hi,

    I am not sure if the issues I am having with my employer, a community college, break any policies or laws. Here is what has happened:

    I am an adjunct professor. I am new to this school having started in March of this year. at the beginning of this semester my boss informed me that students from all classes were coming to her with concerns about my teaching. I spoke to her regarding this and i owned my part, took suggestions made adjustments. I tried every single thing available to get through to the students, but i have come to the conclusion that most of them do not have the basic high school competency skills.

    My boss never wanted to hear my side of story, she believed the students and create a hostile work environment. I discovered that she was speaking to students about me asking if there was something wrong with my teaching.

    In my meeting with her she threatened that she could fire me or choose to work with me, but she had no follow through on any assistance that she offered. I also shared with her a recent medical diagnosis that has caused me great anxiety and depression. She did not ask what accommodations I needed so i was not aware that any could be made. This supervisor also framed any potential accommodations were being done as a favor.

    I made a complaint against her through email and as soon as this happened the work environment became more hostile. Students were even more rude and difficult to manage. I left a class due to a panic attack and the president called me and said the only option is a medical sub for the rest of the contract. I was forced to leave and now they want to dock my pay. I already have appointments for courses next semester, but imagine those will be pulled.

    (Phone number removed to protect your privacy.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2018
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,594
    Likes Received:
    833
    Trophy Points:
    113

    Making a complaint against your supervisor isn't going to have any impact on how your students behave.

    Nothing you posted suggests your employer has done anything illegal or unlawful, but you're free to consult with a local employment attorney for a thorough review of your situation and advice.
     
  3. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

    Messages:
    8,178
    Likes Received:
    1,367
    Trophy Points:
    113

    Just FYI, in employment law the term, hostile work environment, has a very specific meaning. It takes more than rudeness or unpleasantness to create an HWE. Nothing you have posted suggests that you are in an HWE as defined by law.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

    Messages:
    31,771
    Likes Received:
    4,734
    Trophy Points:
    113

    It might be time to seek new employment.
     
  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    844
    Likes Received:
    435
    Trophy Points:
    63

    The essential problem you describe is that students complained about your teaching and the college administration was trying to address that issue. It is certainly not illegal or even inappropriate for the college administration to go to your students to ask about your teaching to try to nail down what the problems are and determine what to do to remedy it. You paint that as a "hostile work environment." Certainly I can see that you would feel stressed about it and might even feel that your supervisor and/or other administrators are hostile to you. But it is important to understand that most hostility or harassment that an employee might feel he or she is experiencing is not illegal.

    Under employment law, the term hostile work environment refers to harassment that an employee encounters that is related to some characteristic that is protected by law. So, under federal law, that means the harassment would be based on your race, color, national origin, citizenship, religion, sex, age (if you are at least age 40), disability, or genetic test information. Under California law, that means it would be based on ancestry and national origin; race and color; religion and creed; age (over 40); mental and physical disability; sex and gender; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression; medical condition and genetic information; marital status; and military and veteran status.

    But here, the hostility you felt was evidently not due to something like your race, sex, religion, etc., but rather the problem of complaints about the effectiveness of your teaching. That is not a hostile work environment.

    Not everyone can be a good teacher. A person may be brilliant and extremely knowledgeable about a particular subject area but have trouble teaching that area to others. When I was in college for my undergraduate degree I took an intermediate economics course. The professor for the class was a graduate student from a foreign country. He was extremely knowledgeable, but he did not speak English very well, making him difficult to understand. In addition to that, he was trying to teach it as though it was a graduate level course. The first day he was showing how various economic formulas are derived through advanced calculus. Most of the students in the class had, at best, just the introductory calculus and economic courses and simply were not prepared to tackle the type of material he was presenting. A number of students complained to the dean of the department that the teaching wasn't good for the course. The students had trouble understanding what he said and the material was too advanced. The university was not able to get him to fix the problems well enough and it replaced him in the course with another professor. Reportedly he felt he had "lost face" in the incident was rather distressed about it, and I'm sure he'd describe that situation as a bit hostile, too. But there was nothing illegal in what the students or the university did. He just wasn't suited for that teaching post even though he really knew the subject well.
     
    hrforme likes this.

Share This Page