Q & A Session – Recourse for Hostile Work Environment


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


In a nut shell: bully boss; hostile work environment; nothing done by HR or Union. I was granted medical retirement without a real resolution to my written report of hostile work environment. I think I was granted retirement just to “go away.” What recourse do I have?


Once you are gone on a disability retirement, your options are limited. You can complain and hope that higher level management acts. You can file with the IG, but most likely you will be ignored. As a practical matter, I don’t think you have recourse through the system. And mostly likely, you cannot successfully sue your bully boss because of complicated immunity rules making such suits rare.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.


  1. The writer must have worked at the Postal Service, many would say that describes a typical day there..but how wrong is the system where the lawyers would answer(spot on, unfortunately) that you basically have no recourse, no one who can help you will care, and that even though the writer has been the victim what are probably serious felony acts-in the real world- he should just take it and go away because they occurred in the government. Is this democracy?

  2. Hold the bully supervisors accountable.

    They think that they are superior and you are inferior and they ge the pleasure of acting they way they do. Expose them file a complaint against them exposed them file a EEO Complaint and if they continue then teach them a lesson on Dignity and Respect at work by being polite and question their behaviour at the office in front of the coworkers.

    These folks a bullies at work and submissive to their spouses at home and they have a poor self of steam and they take it on the work force.

    Their lack of self steam boils on the work place. It needs to be rought to the attention of leadership that the supervisor is a bully and displays no dignity and respect towards the work force.

    This will prevent them from getting promoted.


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