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California Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Lawyers

California has some of the strictest employment laws in the nation, preserving your right to receive fair treatment and equal benefits and protecting you from being exposed to hostile or discriminatory acts in the workplace.

California Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment Comes in Many Forms

In California, employees are protected from hostile work environment harassment under both federal and state laws. The primary state law governing this area is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which offers more expansive protections than federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. FEHA applies to employers with 5 or more employees and protects against harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, mental and physical disability, medical condition, genetic information, age (40 and older), military and veteran status, and other protected categories.

Key Rights Under FEHA Against Hostile Work Environment Harassment

  • Definition of Hostile Work Environment: A hostile work environment occurs when there is unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment or that interferes with an employee’s work performance.
  • Employer Responsibility: Employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent and correct harassment. This includes creating and enforcing anti-harassment policies, providing training to all employees, and effectively addressing any incidents of harassment that occur.
  • Co-worker and Third-Party Harassment: Employers are also responsible for harassment by an employee’s co-workers and third parties like customers or vendors, if the employer knows about the harassment and fails to take appropriate action.
  • No Retaliation: Employees are protected from retaliation if they complain about harassment, participate in an investigation, or testify about harassment in any forum.

Examples of Hostile Work Environment Harassment

  • Example 1: A supervisor frequently makes racist jokes and uses derogatory language about an employee’s racial background. Other employees join in or laugh, and the behavior continues despite the employee’s complaints. This creates a hostile work environment based on race.
  • Example 2: A female employee is subjected to continual sexual advances and lewd comments by her male colleagues. Despite her objections and discomfort, her complaints to management are ignored. This can create a hostile work environment based on sex.
  • Example 3: An employee who uses a wheelchair is repeatedly mocked for their disability by coworkers, and offensive notes are left on their desk. Management is aware of the behavior but does not intervene. This constitutes a hostile work environment based on disability.
  • Example 4: A gay employee is routinely called derogatory names linked to his sexual orientation and is shown homophobic images at work. His complaints to HR are dismissed as overreactions, contributing to a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation.

Legal Remedies

Victims of hostile work environment harassment can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The DFEH can investigate the allegations, mediate between the employee and employer, and, if necessary, file lawsuits in civil court. Remedies may include compensatory damages (for pain and suffering), punitive damages (to punish the employer), back pay, reinstatement if the victim was terminated, and orders requiring the employer to change their policies and practices to prevent future harassment.

California’s FEHA provides one of the strongest protections against workplace harassment in the U.S., emphasizing the state’s commitment to a safe and respectful working environment for all employees.

We understand how intimidating it can be to speak out against your employer, a large corporation, or others who may hold power over you. While legal cases can be lengthy and complicated, we will guide you through every step of the process, making sure you understand your options and can achieve a result you’ll be happy with.

Our Approach

Our Practices are Guided by Integrity. We’ll protect what you deserve.

We work tirelessly and fight tenaciously to hold rights abusers accountable.

If you’ve experienced a distressing incident related to an issue like this, call us for a free case evaluation.

Did You Know?

Hostile Environment Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment cases include those where an employer makes certain job benefits contingent on an employee’s acceptance of sexual advances or conduct.
Sexual Harassment
California employees are entitled to a workplace free from sexual harassment, supported by comprehensive state laws that forbid any form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Is It Illegal, or Just Unfair?

Legal cases can be lengthy, complicated, and confusing, but you don’t have to take on the system all by yourself. If you believe someone has violated your individual rights, or the rights of a large group of people in your community, we can help you find the right course of action.

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