Orange County Harassment Attorney
Everyone wants to feel safe, valued, and productive while at work. However, some work environments become hostile when supervisors, co-workers, or others harass employees, making them feel bullied, intimidated, threatened, or devalued based on a number of protected characteristics. While this behavior is prohibited by both federal and state laws, it still happens with alarming regularity in Orange County, the rest of California and throughout the United States. While some victims of harassment find relief by reporting harassment incidents to their employer, others must turn to a harassment attorney to obtain justice.
What is workplace harassment?
Workplace harassment legally occurs whenever an employee is mistreated or bullied because of his or her race, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Harassment also happens when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances or other types of conduct while in the workplace.
What are some examples of workplace harassment?
There are many types of workplace harassment, including verbal harassment, physical harassment, co-worker harassment, and supervisor harassment. These types of harassment can be further divided into non-sexual harassment and sexual harassment.
Examples of non-sexual harassment may include:
- Making racist jokes, slurs or comments
- Making fun of an employee’s disability or perceived disability
- Ridiculing an employee’s religion or lack of religion
- Making comments about an employee’s age once they are over 40
- Sending offensive or insensitive emails, videos or images
- Wearing clothing with offensive words or symbols, such as racial slurs or swastikas
- Physical intimidation, such as blocking doorways or purposely bumping into someone
- Physical assault, including hitting or shoving
Examples of sexual harassment may include:
- Making sexually suggestive or lewd comments
- Making unwanted sexual advances
- Sharing sexually suggestive or explicit emails, notes, videos or images
- Engaging in sexually inappropriate touching, groping or grabbing
- Making lewd gestures or facial expressions
- Making insulting comments based on an employee’s gender, gender identity or sexual orientation
- Repeatedly asking for dates after being rebuffed
- Requesting sexual favors
It is important to note that perpetrators of harassment can be male or female and of the opposite sex or the same sex. Perpetrators of harassment can include supervisors, co-workers, contractors, or even people who not employed by the company, such as clients or customers.
What are the legal protections against workplace harassment?
American workers are protected against workplace harassment under multiple federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Together, these laws protect employees from workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, sex or pregnancy, national origin, age for those 40 and above, disability or genetic information. While sexual orientation and gender identity protections are not explicitly mentioned under federal law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, has taken the position that the sex protections provided under Title VII extend to include those categories. This position has been held up in federal courts.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, protects employees from harassment based on color, religion, sex or gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, ancestry, disability, genetic information, request for family care leave, request for leave due to a serious health condition, request for pregnancy disability leave or age for those over 40.
In addition to these protections, both federal and California laws prohibit workplace retaliation against employees who report incidents of harassment or assist in harassment investigations.
What should you do if you have been harassed at work?
Victims of workplace harassment often feel frightened and confused. They also may feel that it’s best to put up with the harassment to keep their jobs or keep the peace at work, which is why up to 90% of harassment cases go unreported. However, experts say there are several things employees can do when facing harassment, including:
- Report the harassment following company protocol
- Write down details of each harassment incident
- Band together with any co-workers who have also been targeted
- Get copies of all performance evaluations and other pertinent work documents and keep them in a safe place away from the office
- Gather witness testimony if available
- Consider filing a complaint with the EEOC
- Contact a harassment lawyer for advice
Why hire a harassment attorney?
Employees who experience workplace harassment may not understand all of their legal rights and feel powerless as a result. However, an Orange County harassment lawyer could stand by an employee’s side and help him or her fight for justice. After reviewing the case, legal counsel could explain all legal options available and do everything possible to resolve the situation. One possible solution could be to file a complaint with the EEOC, which could end the harassment and lead to a financial settlement for damages.
Possible damages paid in a harassment lawsuit include:
- Back pay
- Lost benefits
- Costs associated with finding a new job
- Mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of enjoyment in life
- Punitive damages in cases of egregious harassment
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.
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A Review of Rizio Lipinsky
Workplace Harassment Lawyer
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