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California Workplace Bully 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 Workplace Bullying Harassment Comes in Many Forms

Workplace bullying, while not specifically addressed in the same legal terms as sexual harassment or discrimination under both federal and California state laws like the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), still falls under the general umbrella of creating a hostile work environment when the behavior is based on a protected category.

However, general workplace bullying—meaning hostility not linked to a protected characteristic—is not explicitly illegal under California or federal laws. Despite this, California has taken steps to address workplace bullying more directly through certain regulations:

California’s Efforts Against Workplace Bullying:

  • AB 2053 – Abusive Conduct Training: This legislation requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide training on “abusive conduct” in addition to the mandatory sexual harassment training. Abusive conduct is defined under this law as behavior in the workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. This may include verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, and other bullying tactics that are severe or pervasive enough to create a disruptive work environment.
  • Healthy Workplace Bill: While not yet law, California has seen efforts to introduce legislation known as the Healthy Workplace Bill, aimed at providing workers with legal redress against workplace bullying that is not based on a legally protected characteristic.

Examples of Workplace Bullying

  • Example 1: A manager consistently berates an employee in front of colleagues, using derogatory names, criticizing the employee’s intelligence, and threatening job termination without basis. If not linked to a protected characteristic, this may not constitute illegal harassment under FEHA but can be considered abusive conduct under AB 2053 training requirements.
  • Example 2: An employee is systematically excluded from meetings, given impossible deadlines, and had their work sabotaged by coworkers. This type of bullying can contribute to a toxic work environment and, if based on race, sex, or another protected category, could fall under illegal harassment.
  • Example 3: A supervisor makes repeated jokes about an employee’s mental health, contributing to the employee’s anxiety and stress, impacting their work performance. If the bullying is tied to the employee’s mental health condition, this could be seen as discrimination and harassment under FEHA.

Legal Remedies and Protections

While specific remedies for general workplace bullying without a connection to a protected category are limited, employees suffering from bullying linked to such a category may seek remedies under laws that prohibit harassment and discrimination:

  • Filing a complaint: Employees can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) if the bullying is related to a protected characteristic.
  • Legal action: Employees might pursue legal action for intentional infliction of emotional distress or other torts in severe cases, although proving these cases can be challenging.

Employers are encouraged to take all complaints of bullying seriously, regardless of whether they meet the legal definition of harassment, to maintain morale and productivity and to prevent potential legal issues related to a hostile work environment. This involves implementing effective anti-bullying policies, conducting prompt and thorough investigations of complaints, and taking appropriate corrective actions against offenders.

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?

Abusive Conduct
In California, employees have the right to be free from abusive conduct in the workplace, with state laws protecting them against bullying, psychological abuse, and other forms of hostile behavior that can create a toxic work environment.
Bullying at Work
In California, employees have the right to a workplace free from bullying, with legal protections against abusive behavior that undermines an individual’s right to dignity and safety at work.

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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