When the term “workplace harassment” is mentioned, many people think of sexual harassment. But there is a wide range of other types of harassment that are also prohibited by law. It is important for workers to understand and enforce their right to be free from all types of harassment in the workplace. When they do not, harassment is allowed to continue, and other employers might feel emboldened to allow unlawful harassment to continue in their workplaces, as well. Workplace harassment claims make the workplaces of California safer for all employees, and you should speak with harassment attorneys in San Francisco right away.
There are many federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based upon race, color, religion, or national origin. The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination based upon age against an employee who is forty years of age or older, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based upon an employee’s disability. Many workers think that discrimination prohibited by these laws must be unlawful termination, or demotions, or a lower rate of pay, or other changes in the term and conditions of employment. Those acts are prohibited – but so is harassment based upon these protected attributes.
So what is harassment? The law considers harassment to be unwelcome, offensive conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or abusive work environment. The conduct can also be unlawful if the employee must endure it as a condition of his or her continued employment. In most cases, a single incident or mild slight will not rise to the level of an “intimidating, hostile or abusive work environment” (unless it is a particularly serious offense). This is measured by the standard of the “reasonable person.” If a reasonable worker at the job would feel that the environment is intimidating, hostile, or abusive due to offensive conduct, the employer can be liable for illegal harassment.
There are a few important elements that an employee must prove in order to bring a successful harassment claim. First, the employee must prove that the conduct was related to his or her status in a protected class. That includes age (over forty), race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status.
Second, the employee must prove that the work environment was intimidating, hostile, or abusive to the reasonable person (or that the abuse had to be endured in order to keep the employment). And finally, the employee must prove the value of his or her losses. This could include counseling, unemployment, the cost of a new job, and the value of lost wages or employment benefits.
Workplace harassment is a serious issue that affects millions of workers throughout the state. When harassment is allowed to persist, all employees are left less safe at work, and other employers might be emboldened to allow harassment to persist against their own employees. Minnis and Smallets is a San Francisco employment law firm. The skilled employment attorneys at our firm work hard to enforce the right of California employees to work in a safe environment that is free from illegal harassment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Francisco harassment attorney.