What Laws Protect Employees in California Concerning Harassment in the Workplace?

Under federal law, state law, and the various policies of private companies, harassment by an employee or an employer of another employee based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, or parental status is strictly prohibited. The laws and constitution of the United States and California do not permit harassing conduct by anyone in the workplace, which also includes independent contractors.

Types of Workplace Harassment

Illegal workplace harassment generally takes one of two forms. First, workplace harassment may involve quid pro quo harassment. This occurs in situations where employment decisions or actions are based on obedience to or denial of unwelcome conduct, typically behavior of a sexual nature.
Second, workplace harassment can also involve cruel, hostile, or offensive conduct based on one or more of the protected classifications outlined above. This type of conduct is typically so severe or prevalent that it produces a hostile or offensive workplace environment or results in an adverse employment decision, such as termination or demotion.

Harassment comes in many forms, the most well-known being Sexual Harassment. However, it is important to understand that other workplace scenarios can lead to or contain improper and illegal workplace harassment. The following are just a few examples of the various types of workplace harassment:
(1) Disability Harassment;
(2) Religious Harassment;
(3) Sexual Harassment;
(4) Sexual Orientation Harassment;
(5) National Origin Harassment; and
(6) Racial Harassment.

Your Rights at Work

Many private employers and companies have their own policies, procedures, and regulations that attempt to promote harassment-free workplace environments. However, even in these situations, employees and independent contractors may still find themselves subjected to harassing or offensive conduct in violation of the United States and California laws. Oftentimes, employees and agents of private companies either do not know the company policies regarding workplace harassment, or they think there conduct is “no big deal.” Comments about your body, sexual touching or other inappropriate acts are never okay at work. If your boss or supervisor is asking you out on dates, sending you pictures or engaging in flirting that you believe crosses the line, you need to take action. 

If you believe workplace harassment has occurred, then you must report it to the appropriate agents of your employer, generally a manager or the Human Resources Department. Your employer must be given the chance to address and rectify the complained of harassing conduct. If your employer fails to correct the problem, then you may take proper legal action to address the harassment. Employees that fall victim to workplace harassment are often entitled to compensation for enduring harassing conduct that is noticed and uncertified. Where an employer fails to correct reported workplace harassment, said employer subjects themselves to additional legal actions and the victim employee(s) may be entitled to further compensation for damages.

The attorneys of Solouki | Savoy, LLP are tremendously knowledgeable of the ins and outs of workplace harassment, how to recognize it, and how to properly combat workplace harassment and compensate the victims of such actions.