The American Dream is to find a job that you love and that is fulfilling. No matter how much you enjoy your work, however, everything can change when you experience unlawful harassment in the workplace. Harassing behavior can completely change your work environment and might even cause some people to quit their jobs if an employer fails to address the problem.
State and federal law both prohibit harassment in employment based on several protected factors, and employees who experience such harassment have the right to legal recourse. It can be stressful to come forward and complain of harassment against your employer, but the process will be easier with the right legal professionals standing by your side. Seek help from our San Diego employment law attorneys right away.
Types of Prohibited Harassment
When someone at work makes an isolated off-color joke or offensive comment, it might be momentarily disturbing, but it likely does not constitute unlawful harassment. In order for harassing behavior to violate the law and your rights, it must create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment involves:
- Harassing behavior that is so pervasive that it creates an environment in which a reasonable employee would not be able to work
- An isolated incident that is so offensive that it makes the work environment hostile
Generally, one comment or gesture is not enough unless it is highly offensive or threatening - such as a coworker hanging a noose in the locker of a black employee or assault against someone of same-sex orientation. However, when harassment persists, you can have an action for a hostile work environment.
The most commonly reported type of harassment is sexual harassment. This can happen against employees of either sex or might also be based on sexual orientation or gender-related issues. While many cases of sexual harassment involve a hostile work environment due to persistent conduct by coworkers, some cases involve a more serious type of harassment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when your boss or someone with authority over your career requests sexual favors and makes your employment a condition. This might involve:
- Threatening to fire you if you refuse
- Offering a raise, promotion, or another career benefit if you agree
This form of harassment results in the automatic liability of an employer, even if the company did not know the quid pro quo harassment was occurring.
Harassment Based on Other Protected Characteristics
In addition to sexual harassment, employees are also protected from harassing behaviors based on the protected factors set out by federal and California law. Specifically, San Diego employees should never be harassed based on any of the following:
Harassment can take a significant toll on your mental health and work performance. Unsurprisingly, harassment can get to the point where employees feel that their only option is to leave their position. When employees quit because their working conditions have become intolerable, the law terms it constructive discharge.
If you believe you have been constructively discharged from your position, you may be able to obtain relief, including back pay, reinstatement into your position, discharge of the employee or supervisor who created the intolerable work environment, or monetary damages. If you have quit your job because of intolerably hostile working conditions, you should speak with a San Diego workplace harassment attorney immediately.
Steps to Take if You Experienced Harassment
If you are experiencing harassing behaviors at work, it is critical for you to file a complaint with your employer. Your employer has the opportunity to take necessary steps to stop a hostile work environment before they face liability (with the exception of quid pro quo sexual harassment). If your employer allows the harassment and hostile work environment to continue, you can hold them accountable for unlawful harassment.
Workplace harassment claims are neither easy nor comfortable to pursue. In order to make sure you take the right steps and stand strong, you want an experienced workplace harassment attorney handling every step of the process for you. Even if you are unsure whether you experienced harassment, our legal team can help.
Seek Help from a San Diego Workplace Harassment Lawyer Today
If you believe you have been the victim of workplace harassment, you should call an attorney right away. Claims related to workplace harassment must be filed within a very short period of time, and waiting to file can do serious harm to your chances of success. To schedule a free consultation with a workplace harassment lawyer, call our office today or contact us online.
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