Is that even legal?

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    “Hey, I got an HR question for you.” This is a statement I hear often. In most cases it usually involves a scenario description followed by, “Is that legal?” In my experience, most of the scenarios I hear come from bad workplace conduct, behavior, or policy and are not illegal. A recent blog post by Donna Bellman breaks down the top ten employment laws that you think exist that don’t. The post is straightforward and to the point. Follow the link for the entire list, but here are a few of my frequently asked questions:

    Wrongful termination

    If you live in Arizona or Montana, your employer can only fire you for just cause. Otherwise, they can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. They don’t have to have a good reason. They don’t even have to give a reason.

    Hostile environment/harassment

    Hostile work environment is not illegal. Harassment is not illegal. Bullying is not illegal. Hostile work environment or harassment due to race, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, color, taking Family and Medical Leave, whistleblowing, or some other legally-protected status is illegal.


    Discriminating against you for being you is never illegal. Favoritism, nepotism, being a jerk, are not illegal. Discrimination based on age, race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, color and genetic information are illegal.

    And despite the fact that many aren’t illegal, I am often surprised by how HR has responded to the scenarios I hear which range the gamut from full “blowing off’ to complete overreaction. If you are an HR professional you need to know the difference. And if it is just bad workplace behavior take a stand against it even if it isn’t illegal.

    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.

    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit Follow me on Twitter @Sherimaz.