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Employee Harassment Claims

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  • Telling jokes that are considered “off-color,” such as those based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.
  • Talking about sexual activities, being sexually suggestive
  • Displaying images that are either insensitive (such as racially insensitive) or sexually suggestive
  • Demeaning behavior
  • Crude language and indecent gestures
  • Exhibiting hostility or hostile physical behavior
  • Sabotaging a victim
  • Denying promotions or other advancement opportunities when an employee refuses sexual advances
  • Retaliating against an employee

In most harassment cases, the critical question is whether a hostile work environment has been created by the harassing behavior. Hostile work environment harassment is conduct that is so pervasive that an abusive work environment is created. The improper conduct must be severe, frequent, or both. Workplace harassment must also subjectively offend, humiliate, or distress the victim. Simple slights, jokes, or minor annoyances from their employer, supervisor, coworkers, or another third party associated with the organization may not rise to the level of illegal behavior.

In hostile work environment claims, isolated incidents of inappropriate conduct are usually not enough to rise to the level of unlawful harassment.⁠ However, it is worth speaking to your supervisor or human resources department about, so the incident is on file, in case a pattern emerges. Employees must be able to show a concerted pattern of harassment of a repeated, routine, or generalized nature. If the single incident is extremely severe, their case may proceed. Talk to our experienced workplace harassment attorney in Glendale to understand your legal rights and options to pursue a claim, so your rights are protected going forward. 

According to theCalifornia Civil Rights Workplace Harassment Guide, an employer having five or more employees must provide at least two hours of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees and at least one

hour of classroom or other effective interactive training and education regarding sexual harassment to all nonsupervisory employees in California within six months of their assumption of a position. This training must be provided once every two years.

Employers in California are required to develop and distribute a written policy regarding the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against employees.⁠ The policy is subject to certain specific requirements, which include outlining all protected categories covered under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

The written policy must also include:

  • The law prohibits coworkers, third parties, supervisors, and managers from engaging in practices unlawful under FEHA.
  • A complaint process. 
  • A complaint mechanism that does not require an employee to complain directly to his or her immediate supervisor. 
  • Instruct supervisors to report any complaints of misconduct to a designated company representative, which may include a human resources manager, so the company can try to resolve the claim internally.
  • Indicate that when an employer receives allegations of misconduct, it will conduct a fair, timely, and thorough investigation that provides all parties with appropriate due process and reaches reasonable conclusions based on the evidence collected.
  • State that confidentiality will be kept by the employer to the extent possible, but it cannot indicate that the investigation will be completely confidential. 
  • Indicate that if at the end of the investigation misconduct is found, appropriate remedial measures will be taken. 
  • Make clear that employees shall not be exposed to retaliation because of lodging a complaint or participating in any workplace investigation.⁠
  • Post a specificanti-discrimination and harassment notice from the Civil Rights Department​ in a “prominent and accessible” location in the workplace.⁠ 

Additionally, employers should distribute a sexual harassment brochure, or an information sheet prepared by theCivil Rights Department, unless they have informational documents with equivalent information.⁠