I work for a woman-owned trucking company. Boss Lady has a husband that is always present, but he is not officially on any paperwork as he collects disability. This husband has verbally assaulted a particular driver on two occasions in the past week. As in yelling and chasing after the driver as the driver tried to get away from him. Now the driver has been told that he will only continue to be employed there if he is nice to the husband. My question is basically if this is legal? I feel it is but just frowned upon. I just wanted confirmation that this is the wrong way to run a business. Any response is appreciated. Thank you.
Yelling and screaming at someone isn’t illegal behavior, even though it is horrible behavior. So assuming that it was just strictly verbal, the husband did nothing legally wrong. Morally wrong, yes. He’s a jerk and a horrible person. He shouldn’t be allowed around employees if he acts this way.
However, you’re right; it’s not illegal. As a general rule, bosses can make whatever rules they want as long as those rules don’t violate the law. So, getting along with the jerk husband can be required. Following the jerk husband’s command to do X or Y that violates federal trucking regulations (of which there are a ton), cannot be required.
It’s pretty irrelevant whether or not he’s employed there or just hanging out–which is the case. Just like the manager gets to decide which customers to kick out and which to serve, the owner here can decide to let her husband stay at her work.
One caveat–this assumes that the husband is an equal-opportunity jerk. If his jerky behavior isn’t just yelling “squid lip you!” at employees, but using sexual language, picking his victims based on race, gender, religion, etc, or anything else which violates the law, then the boss is obligated to step in.
HR Hero, summed it up like this:
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other employment laws, employers must create and maintain a harassment-free workplace, and that obligation extends to nonemployees and customers. As a result, if someone who isn’t an employee engages in behavior that violates the law, you are required to step in and protect your employees. That typically requires some knowledge of what’s happening, an investigation, and remedial action.
So, if Jerk Husband violates this than your boss is obligated, under federal law, to intervene and shut him down.
That ain’t gonna happen without outside intervention, most likely.
So, what can you do? You can certainly bring it to her attention, and that tends to work best when everyone bands together to tell her that her husband’s behavior is unacceptable. If he’s violating the law, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. Other than that, you can either be nice to the husband or get the heck out of Dodge. Preferably, the latter, as a whole group, but I totally get it if you decide just to tolerate it. Finding a job isn’t easy and if you’re truckers, you’re probably not in the jerk’s presence all that often.