Defend Your Rights with a Workplace Harassment Lawyer

A hostile work environment is a nightmare for many employees. You may expect your supervisor or human resources to step in and address workplace harassment, but what can you do if your reports are ignored?

If you’re suffering from offensive behavior or intimidation at work, and your employer or HR department won’t address the issue, it’s time to contact a workplace harassment lawyer. An experienced employment lawyer can check whether you have grounds for a workplace harassment case and fight to help you seek justice.

What Is Workplace Harassment?

Workplace harassment comes in many shapes. It can take the form of unwanted physical contact, offensive remarks, undesirable sexual advances, and other behavior that makes you dread coming to work. 

Harassment consists of a type of conduct not necessary for performance of a supervisory job. Instead, harassment consists of conduct outside the scope of necessary job performance, conduct presumably engaged in for personal gratification, because of meanness or bigotry, or for other personal motives. Harassment is not conduct of a type necessary for management of the employer’s business or performance of the supervisory employee’s job

Harassment in the workplace can go hand in hand with workplace discrimination, and can rise to the level of discrimination, if sufficiently severe or pervasive.

Workplace Harassment Definition in California

In California, workplace harassment is any unwelcome conduct toward an employee belonging to a protected group based on their race, age, sex, sexual orientation, or another characteristic. To count as harassment, the conduct has to be severe or pervasive enough to make the workplace environment abusive/hostile or lead to adverse employment steps like a wrongful termination or demotion.

What Are Some Common Forms of Workplace Harassment?

Some frequently occurring forms of harassment in the workplace include:

  • Sexual harassment, like rude jokes of a sexual nature or soliciting sexual favors from a coworker or employee in exchange for workplace benefits like promotions
  • Racial harassment, like racist remarks, racial slurs, and constant microaggressions that create a toxic environment
  • Sexual orientation harassment, including offensive or rude comments about the LGBTQ+ community
  • Religious harassment, such as negative, unwelcome comments about an employee’s faith or remarks about clothing or religious symbols associated with a certain faith
  • National origin harassment, like derogatory comments about a person’s accent, country of birth, or ethnicity
  • Disability harassment, such as negative remarks about a worker’s disability status or hostile comments about their reasonable requests for workplace accommodations 

Workplace harassment can be open, like verbal abuse and intimidation, or subtle and hard to pinpoint, like spreading rumors and social ostracism. Moreover, workers who don’t fall under a protected category may also suffer from workplace bullying or intimidation. It’s always a good idea to call Kent | Pincin and consult a workplace harassment lawyer if you’re struggling to work in a hostile environment and your organization doesn’t take the proper steps to fix the situation.

What Can I Do If I Am Harassed at Work?

Taking action against workplace harassment can be a difficult decision. You might be afraid of an awkward situation that harms your relationships with your coworkers or threatens your future in the company. Nevertheless, no one should put up with a stressful and toxic work environment or quit because of workplace bullying.

Reporting Workplace Harassment to Your Employer

Under state and federal law, before you take legal steps against your employer, you may want to try to act against inappropriate workplace behavior within the organization. For instance, you may want: 

  • Ask the harasser to stop their improper actions 
  • Inform your supervisor, HR department, or employer of the situation 
  • Follow your organization’s inner protocols for addressing workplace harassment or bullying

You should document the harassment and your efforts to resolve the problem. For example, if a coworker sends you texts or images of a sexual nature despite your repeated requests to stop, take screenshots, and save the text messages. Make detailed notes of any incident of abuse or harassment. Save any emails, text messages, or other correspondence in which you discuss the workplace harassment with your employer or human resources.

Taking Legal Action Against Workplace Harassment

If your employer fails to resolve the abusive situation in the workplace, you may proceed to legal steps. First, you must file a state claim with the California Civil Rights Division (CRD) or a federal claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The responding agency will notify your employer and conduct an investigation. The agency may then recommend mediation or give you the right to sue your company. You should reach out to an attorney at Kent | Pincin for help in drafting your state or federal claim.

Our seasoned workplace harassment lawyers can give you more information about this critical step of filing administrative charges and explain what would likely happen if your case escalated to a harassment lawsuit. We’ll also ensure you bring a claim within the statute of limitations.

Can I Sue for Workplace Harassment If It Happened During a Job Interview?

What if the harassment happened during a job interview, and the company ended up hiring a different applicant? Depending on the circumstances, you may still have grounds for a workplace harassment and/or discrimination lawsuit.

Typically, you must show that the organization’s behavior during the hiring process counts as harassment. Specifically, under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), potential employers can’t ask you inappropriate questions about your:

  • Age
  • Religious practices
  • Disability status or health issues
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Marital status
  • Criminal record

Your claim may have additional weight if you can prove that the company eventually hired a candidate with qualifications inferior to yours. A skilled lawyer can determine whether your experience during the hiring process likely falls under the definition of harassment. 

Do Harassment Lawsuits Against Government Employers Differ From Those Against Private Employers?

Your legal strategy and the potential outcome of your claim may differ depending on whether you’re taking action against a private employer or government agency. If you work (or worked) for a government employer, you may need to:

  • File extra documentation, like a complaint, with an Equal Employment Opportunity department within the agency.
  • Act more quickly since the statute of limitations for harassment claims is often shorter if the employer is a government agency.
  • Expect different compensation standards, like caps on compensatory or punitive damages.

If you’re planning to sue a government agency for workplace discrimination, it’s even more important to contact a competent workplace harassment lawyer as soon as possible. In some cases, the statute of limitations is only six months from the last incident of abuse or harassment. Additionally, the sooner you act, the easier it is to collect evidence and statements from other workers who may have witnessed the harassing behavior.

Holding Employers Accountable for Harassment in the Workplace

Various federal and state laws, including the FEHA, compel employers to ensure their organization is free of harassment, discrimination, bullying, and abuse. If a company employs more than five people, California employers must provide appropriate harassment training to supervisors, managers, and employees. This training must also cover topics like sexual orientation and gender identity. 

California law also requires employees to take “reasonable steps” to fight workplace harassment. This includes investigating harassment claims and acting against employees who bully, abuse, or incite discrimination against their coworkers. Any employer who fails to act against workplace harassment may face lawsuits, financial penalties, and compulsory anti-harassment training.

What If Your Employer Fails To Address Harassment After You Report It?

Let’s say you followed all your organization’s protocols for reporting and remedying harassment. You explained to the harasser that their actions were unacceptable, notified your supervisor, and talked to the HR department. Unfortunately, your organization dismissed your complaint or failed to take decisive steps against the harassing behavior.

Once it’s clear that your efforts to resolve the problem internally have failed, you may proceed to file a Charge of Harassment with the EEOC. After the CRD or EEOC looks into your inquiry, you may need to undergo an interview to discuss your situation. 

The CRD or EEOC may suggest a workplace mediation plan that focuses on resolving the harassment problem. However, this step may fail if your employer refuses to cooperate. In this case, you may request the right to sue. Once the CRD or EEOC grants this right, you can proceed to a harassment lawsuit against your employer.

Can You Suffer Negative Consequences for Reporting Harassment?

Like many workers, you may fear reporting harassment could harm your career prospects or cost you your job. You should know that it’s illegal for an employer to fire you, demote you, deny you a promotion, or take away your employee privileges because you complained about workplace harassment. 

When an employer retaliates against you for reporting harassment, this usually happens under the guise of legitimate disciplinary action. For instance, you may have been an exemplary employee, but suddenly, shortly after you complain of harassment, your employer terminates your contract, citing poor performance.

If you’re dealing with this situation, our law firm can help you take steps against unlawful retaliation as well as the original issue of workplace harassment. If your claim is valid, your employer may have to cover your lost wages, lawyer fees, and other related costs. You could also claim compensation for emotional distress.

I Was Fired for Reporting Workplace Harassment. Can Kent | Pincin Help Me?

California law makes it illegal to fire workers for reporting harassment. If your employer retaliated against you by terminating your contract after you complained about workplace harassment, contact us at Kent | Pincin.

Our skilled attorneys have successfully handled many workplace harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination cases. We can advocate for your rights, whether you’re fighting for reinstatement in your former job or compensation for damages like lost pay and emotional distress.

How Can an Attorney Help Me If I’m a Victim of Harassment at Work?

If you’re considering taking action against your employer for workplace harassment or abuse, you should always work with an experienced employment lawyer. Often, organizations will deny that workplace harassment ever happened or try to downplay its impact. You can also be almost certain that your employer will hire a legal team to defend against harassment claims. 

A workplace harassment lawyer is an indispensable ally if you’re an employee who has suffered bullying, harassment, or abuse at work. Your attorney can:

  • Explain your rights, including state and federal laws that protect workers against harassment
  • Help you document the pattern of hostile behaviors that add up to workplace harassment
  • Ensure your employer runs a thorough, objective investigation of your harassment complaint
  • Prevent or address any retaliation you experienced after reporting harassment
  • Handle the legal proceedings against your employer (or former employer), negotiate an adequate settlement, or represent you in court if necessary

Caring for our Clients

Contact a Workplace Harassment Lawyer in Redondo Beach

Did you suffer sexual, religious, or any other type of harassment at work? Contact us at Kent | Pincin. Our legal team will help you build a strong case to prove harassment. We’ll work hard to protect your rights and maximize your chances of claiming compensation.

Call 310-376-0922 or contact us online to consult a California workplace harassment lawyer. We’re conveniently located at 120 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA.

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