Let’s face it – some people have horrible bosses. Sometimes our bosses are just mean, rude people. But under the First Amendment, it’s completely legal to be a rude person. It’s completely legal to be mean. But at what point does the verbal abuse cross a line? And at what point does this line offer legal recourse? Here are some examples detailing when a horrible boss’s conduct has crossed the legal line.


Assault is both a criminal and civil crime in California. A person commits assault by intentionally inflicting or threatening to inflict physical injury on another person. Assault requires the following: (1) a person did something that was likely to result in the use of force against someone else; (2) the person did so willfully; (3) the person was aware that a reasonable person could believe the act would result in a physical touching of the person; and (4) the person acted with the ability to apply force to the other person (5) with no legal excuse. Assault does not have to result in physical injury, only that the circumstances can reasonably show that harm was intended and likely to occur.

For example:

  1. An assault occurs if your co-worker raises a hand towards you, intending to strike and there is reasonable belief you will be struck. Whether the strike lands or not is immaterial; what matters is that you reasonably believed the co-worker raised a hand intending for you to be struck.
  2. An assault occurs if, as you’re leaving work, your boss follows you to your car and prevents you from leaving in such a way that your safety is threatened. If your boss corners you, slams your car door closed, or threatens immediate harm if you leave, this is considered assault.
  3. An assault occurs if your boss makes specific, immediate threats to your person. If you and your boss get into an argument and your boss threatens to hit you if you don’t shut up or do what your boss says, this is assault.


Battery is a more serious crime than assault. Battery is an assault that results in physical touching of your body. Battery is any unwelcome touching upon your physical body caused by a person who made willful contact on your body. A battery is concerned with whether the aggressor’s actions were done on purpose, regardless of the intent to harm.

For example:

  1. A battery occurs when a manager slaps you, even playfully, and it hurts. 
  2. A battery occurs when you are walking somewhere and your boss physically pulls you to the side, for whatever reason.
  3. A battery occurs when your boss, intending to be funny, sticks a leg out to trip you and you fall and injure yourself. The same applies when your boss pulls the chair out from under you as you are trying to sit down and instead you fall.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is also a serious crime. Sexual assault, simply put, is an assault that is sexual in nature. Like battery, sexual assault occurs when a battery is committed with a sexual component. Sexual assault involves unconsented-to touching, either over the clothes or under the clothes, for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. It is crucial to note that sexual assault, namely the sexual assaulter, can be of any gender identity. 

For example:

  1. A sexual assault occurs when a manager compliments your outfit and reaches over to slap your butt.
  2. A sexual assault occurs when an employer gets too drunk at the holiday party and either gropes you or kisses you against your will.
  3. A sexual assault occurs when you feel you are required to perform sexual favors for a boss or risk a demotion, promotion, or losing your job.

The above examples are just a few of the horrible boss behaviors one might encounter while working today. Again, it’s not illegal to be a jerk, but when your boss’ behavior crosses a line then you must take action to protect your rights. Uplift Law is here to help you. Call us today. We can help get you the justice you deserve and protect you from a horrible boss.