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Human Resources/hostile work environment


Hello Brian,

I work for a public university in Texas with well over 500 employers and our HR Department is headed by VP of HR.

Recently, a person in my management chain (boss of my boss) made an inappropriate comment about me keeping him up at night during a meeting with my boss present.  My supervisor's supervisor continued to make the comment a couple more times and I commented that he needed not to worry about me in that capacity.  Since that incident, I have been called in two additional meetings where I was reprimanded for not completing daily work logs correctly (group meeting) and required explanation of 5 months of work logs (individual meeting) with my supervisor and the supervisor's supervisor present.  Furthermore, the supervisor's supervisor came to my class and conducted an classroom observation of my teaching and afterward a heated discuss occurred where this person accused, chasitized and baggered me of not attending meetings as well as insulted me during the exchange.

This was the last straw,I have worked for the University for 10 years without incident, recently received a merit raise and have a history of above average evaluations both from students regarding and the annual performance instrument.  I filed a complaint with HR on sexual harassment /hostile work environment and the claim was found meritless.  Around the same time the finding was determined, I received an end of contract letter for my teaching assignment.  In my 10 years of teaching, I have not ever received such a letter.  Though I learned my department did send out letters to last year, but I did not receive one.  Note, my teaching position is a year to year assignment though I have a part-time staff function; I have not received any notification on the staff function termination, but I get the impression it is coming after meeting with our department head since there is reorganization of the department supposedly though it has only been mentioned in meeting no official notifications.

Okay, my question is do I have grounds for the sexual harassment/ hostile work environment complaint and now as a result of my complaint, am I being retaliated against?  How can I prove it is retaliation versus them just deciding to not renew my contract?  What recourse do I have?  Any insights are appreciated.


I'm not sure my advice will be specific enough for your case.  The reason is harassment is one of those things that is very subjective.  You apparently took it to HR already and it was found to be of no merit.  Of course, the next logical question is  could HR be non-biased and protecting the boss -X2;  or are you making a mountain out of a molehill.     Again, I dont know all the details, or the other side's perspective on this situation,  but I assure you I'm non-biased   !

So, is it really retailiation?   I could not say.  I know nothing about the past practices of this institution nor their culture in terms of  "how they handle things".  

Right now, the only recourse you might have is to ask them for a complete copy of your entire personnel file and include all paper and electronic correspondence to HR about you.   Of course, this is not a small request and maybe certain information will be missed accidentally or intentionally.

So, the next step-- do you get an attorney to ask for the same information?   What more would this accomplish ?    The best question I have to ask you is " how far down this road do you want to travel"?

Assuming you had all the information in front of you , from all sides, now what ?

Would you really want to work there after this ?   Have others left-- or been fired for the same reasons ?    You see, there are so many possibilities, but it all comes back to what do you plan to do if or when you had the information,  and how much do you plan to spend to  "make it right",  then,  what next ?  Do you still resign or do you go back, having beaten the giant.  Is it worth it?    IT all depends what is important to you.  Fight to the last breath or give them the one finger salute and work elsewhere...   Some employers are trash and not worth the fight,  others deserve to be driven like a railroad spike;  and finally, maybe you are blowing this out of proportion.   Again,  I dont know...,  nor am I asking for any details.

It is also a matter or principle, pride, and how much energy is this worth ?

Sorry, I said my opinion may not be too helpful in this case regarding "he said/  she said"  situations.  These typically cost someone a lot of money,  it is just a matter of how long you want to fight and who has a better attorney,  and the facts that can be PROVEN;  or reasonably proven.

As far as non-attorney resolution, you already crossed that bridge and are on the way out.   So,   what is next ?

Good luck and I hope this helps somehow.

Brian Phillips

Human Resources

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Brian Phillips


Foreign and US university students -*PLEASE*- DO NOT waste your time asking for my opinions, comments or analysis of your homework questions. Homework questions are not answered and are rejected. I am happy to help answer questions asked by employees and employers regarding United States based state and Federal wage and hour, OT, Fair labor standards, FMLA, COBRA, Recruiting, Interviewing techniques, employee manuals, discipline, terminations/quits, unemployment, HRIS rollout, Employee Leasing or Staffing company cost analysis, day to day scenarios, work situations and more. Essentially a well rounded HR generalist who operates Harvis, Inc., a human resource consulting and service business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania "NEPA".


At Harvis, Inc., we provide Human Resource products, services and advice to small businesses that may not have the time or resources to hire a full time HR department. For larger companies with HR managers in place, we compliment their expertise to help with time consuming or time sensitive projects like updating policy manuals, screening and interviewing and more. We make workplaces better by becoming that 1/2 person they need to help handle HR responsibilities on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Formerly responsible for all Human Resource activity for a staffing agency with 2,500 annual employees as well as an employee leasing / PEO business with 1,500 annual employees. Designed and implemented the HR structure to support hundreds of clients in excess of $ 500 million in payroll volume over career in Human Resources.

* President 2006- Harvis Inc. HR Services * President 2010-13 Business Association of the Greater Shickshinny Area - Shickshinny PA * President 2013- ShickshinnyForward Not for Profit Community Long Term Revitalization Organization and former member of varios Chambers of Commerce and HR Taskforce, former President of NBC Business Club 2 years

Bloomsburg University - 1993 BS Marketing, Bloomsburg Pennsylvania and Luzerne County Community College - 1991 Business Administration, Nanticoke Pennsylvania

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* Better than average - 20/10 vision * Bestowed with an occasional "Thank You" from clients and their employees.

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