Can You Take Legal Action Against Your Boss?

As an employee, you have certain legal rights that protect you from discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations in the workplace. But what happens when your boss violates those rights?

Can you take legal action against your boss? The answer is yes, and in this article, we’ll explore the different types of legal actions available to you, the steps you should take, and the costs involved.

Types of legal actions against bosses

There are several types of legal actions you can take against your boss, including harassment/discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and wrongful termination.

Harassment/Discrimination: Harassment and discrimination are illegal in the workplace. Harassment is any unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected characteristic, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or religion.

Discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee unfairly or differently because of their protected characteristic. If your boss’s behavior falls under these categories, you can take legal action against them.

Retaliation: Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity, such as reporting discrimination or harassment. If you experience retaliation from your boss after reporting discriminatory or harassing behavior, you can take legal action.

Wage and Hour Violations: Employers are required by law to pay employees a fair wage for their work, including overtime pay when applicable. If your boss fails to pay you a fair wage or denies you overtime pay, you can take legal action.

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Wrongful Termination: Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for reasons that are illegal or violate public policy. If your boss fires you for reporting discrimination or harassment, or for any other illegal reason, you can take legal action.

Steps to take when considering legal action against a boss

  • Documentation: Documentation is critical when it comes to any legal action. You want to keep records of any incidents or behavior that you believe to be illegal or discriminatory. This includes written records of conversations, emails, text messages, or any other communication with your boss that you feel supports your claim. Keep any physical evidence such as pictures, videos, or other tangible items that could be used as evidence.
  • Consultation with a Lawyer: A qualified employment attorney can help you understand the legal options available to you and can guide you through the process. They can review your documentation, advise you on your legal rights, and help you determine the best course of action.
  • Filing a Complaint: Depending on the type of complaint, you will need to file with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state’s labor department. Your attorney can help you with the specifics of filing a complaint.
  • Negotiation and Settlement: Negotiation and settlement may be an option in some cases. This involves negotiating with your employer to resolve the issue outside of court. Settlement agreements can include monetary compensation, a change in workplace policies, or other remedies.

The cost of taking legal action against a boss

Taking legal action against your boss can be costly. Attorney fees can vary based on the complexity of the case, and other costs such as court fees, deposition costs, and expert witness fees can add up quickly. However, it is essential to remember that the cost of not taking legal action could be much higher in the long run.


Taking legal action against your boss is a serious step that requires careful consideration. Understanding your legal rights, documenting incidents, consulting with a qualified attorney, and filing a complaint are essential steps in the process.

While the cost of taking legal action can be high, it is important to consider the potential long-term cost of not taking action. Remember, everyone has the right to a safe and non-discriminatory workplace, and taking legal action is one way to ensure that right is protected.

It is also important to note that taking legal action against your boss may have some repercussions in your employment. Your boss may try to retaliate or make your work environment difficult. However, there are laws in place to protect you from retaliation and discrimination.

It is crucial to understand that each case is unique, and the legal options available to you will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Therefore, it is essential to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who specializes in employment law to guide you through the process.

In conclusion, taking legal action against your boss is possible if they violate your legal rights. Documenting incidents, consulting with an attorney, filing a complaint, and negotiating a settlement are some of the steps you can take to pursue legal action. 

While there are costs involved, it is essential to remember that taking legal action can protect your rights and ensure a safe and non-discriminatory workplace.