In the age of #MeToo, #TimesUp, and sexual assault and workplace harassment allegations against many prominent public figures, the good news is that awareness of improper work conduct is on the rise. In fact, harassment claims in California are 5% higher for women and 10% higher for men than the national average, hopefully because more California employees are aware of state workplace protections. While it can be difficult to know exactly where a line is crossed, both employers and employees should thoroughly understand what types of actions can be considered harassment.
In California, workers are protected from harassment by both state and federal law. Harassment is defined as unwelcome behavior or policies that are based on an employee’s race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or other protected status. Harassment generally occurs when an employee:
- Must work in an offensive environment as a condition of their employment; or
- The offensive behavior is severe enough to give rise to a hostile or intimidating work environment.
Are You the Victim of Workplace Harassment?
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where a hostile work environment begins. For example, some jokes or insults from your colleagues may be offensive but are simply annoying or rude and don’t rise to the level of illegal. Some examples of illegal harassment or a hostile work environment might include:
- Personal insults, photos, or objects that are offensive in nature or actions that directly interfere with your ability to do your work;
- Offensive jokes, epithets, name-calling, and racial or sexual slurs; and
- Threats, intimidation, and physical or verbal assaults.
You do not have to prove that you’ve suffered economic harm or been fired to claim harassment or a hostile work environment. Nor do you have to have been the direct target of harassment to show a hostile work environment. All employees are entitled to a harassment-free workplace.
If you think you may be the victim of workplace harassment, you don’t need to figure this out on your own. The skilled Sacramento employment law professionals at The Ward Firm can help protect your rights through aggressive advocacy and litigation. Email us through our contact form or call us at 916-443-2474 to schedule a consultation.