Both federal and California laws require employers to provide a safe working environment that is also free of discrimination and harassment. If you have been subjected to discrimination or harassment in your workplace, our experienced employment law attorneys at Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP can help you to vindicate your rights.
Workplace harassment is a form of employment discrimination. Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct that is perpetrated against an employee based on the employee’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age (40 or older), or physical or mental disability. An employer can be liable if a supervisor harasses an employee, or if a peer harasses an employee and the employer is aware of, but does nothing to stop, the harassment.
Conduct becomes harassment when an employee:
Though harassment can be based on various characteristics or bases, the most common is sexual harassment, of which there are two main types:
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment – this is a form of sexual harassment that occurs when someone, typically though not always a manager or supervisor, offers something of value such as a raise or promotion (or threatens punishment, such as demotion or termination) in exchange for a demand to receive sexual favors from the employee. Quid pro quo sexual harassment can be either expressed—where the harasser makes it explicitly known what their exchange would be, or it can be implied. Quid pro quo is implied if a reasonable person would understand and interpret the behavior as a demand to offer the sexual favor to receive the thing of value or a threat to suffer the threatened consequence if they refuse to comply.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment – this is a form of harassment that occurs when an employer creates or allows an employee to be subjected to unwelcome sexual behavior that is strong and persistent enough to interfere with an employee’s work performance or the behavior creates an intimidating work environment.
Under California law, an employer has a legal duty to take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and to investigate all sexual harassment allegations in the workplace and take immediate action to make sure the harassment ends.
If an employer fails to investigate an allegation about sexual harassment, then they may be held liable for the harm suffered by the target of the sexual harassment. It is also a violation of law for an employer to retaliate against an employee who makes a reasonable complaint about being sexually harassed.
Other forms of harassment include unwelcomed conduct targeting the victim because of their race, color, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age (40 or older), physical or mental disability.
If you believe you have been the victim of workplace harassment of any kind, contact Olivier Schreiber & Chao LLP today to discuss your situation.
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