Employee rights in Los Angeles include the right to a safe work environment, including one free of harassment. Workplace harassment can result in physical, psychological, and emotional damage and make simply going to work much more difficult than it should be. Workplace harassment includes sexual harassment and harassment as a form of discrimination. Although this treatment is against the law, most employees know this doesn’t prevent it from occurring.
Harassment in the workplace may happen because employers do not have effective policies in place, because an employer fails to properly respond to workplace complaints, or because an employer is actively engaging in forms of harassment. In any of these situations, employees can file a claim against their employer. It can be difficult to know how to begin this process, and harassment can make employees feel powerless in their situation.
Workplace harassment can harm any employee, and many employees are unaware of their legal options. If you are a victim of workplace harassment, you may be able to earn compensation by filing a complaint and civil claim against your employer.
California Employment Council, APC: Workplace Harassment Attorneys in Los Angeles
If you are experiencing workplace harassment, and the internal complaint system is not addressing your issues in a reasonable period of time, you can file a complaint. This complaint can be sent to the state or federal agency that addresses workplace discrimination and harassment, which may then provide you with the right to file a civil claim against your employer. Compensation from a civil claim can recover damages you suffered, including emotional suffering and lost wages or benefits, if you were unable to complete your job duties due to harassment or if your harassment included demotion or other adverse employment actions.
This process can feel very overwhelming to many employees. Whether or not you have filed a complaint for workers’ rights violations before, an employment attorney can provide an easier process and improve your chances of earning compensation.
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we are proud to represent employee rights in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. We have worked for decades protecting employees, filing civil claims against employers who have violated labor laws, and representing individuals in negotiations and litigation. Harassment is illegal, and it can be exceptionally traumatic. Our attorneys understand how sensitive this situation can be and want to provide you with the support and legal guidance you need.
Understanding Workplace Harassment and Discrimination
Workplace harassment and sexual harassment often overlap with workplace discrimination and make a workplace feel unsafe for employees. Discrimination is the mistreatment of employees based on protected characteristics, such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Workplace harassment and sexual harassment can be based on discrimination.
Employees can also face harassment or discrimination after exercising other employee rights, such as whistleblowing illegal workplace activity, taking protected medical leave, or participating in an investigation about employee rights violations. This is considered workplace retaliation, which is also illegal.
What Are the Two Types of Harassment?
Workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, can impact an employee regardless of their race, gender, or age. Understanding how harassment can manifest may help you recognize it and more effectively protect your rights as an employee. Harassment in the workplace generally takes two forms:
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
This form of harassment can be committed by any coworker and creates an unsafe environment for an employee. Harassment causes an employee to feel uncomfortable or threatened and prevents them from completing their job duties. Claims based on a hostile work environment are usually more successful if the harassment is repeated frequently or if the offenses are very serious.
Hostile work environment harassment may include sexual harassment based on gender, including inappropriate and sexual comments, humiliating and offensive jokes and actions, unwanted physical touch, or gender- and sex-based bullying.
A hostile work environment may also include harassment based on a discriminatory bias. Jokes, rude comments, and bullying based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, and pregnancy may also be considered a hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
This form of harassment can only be committed by a manager, supervisor, employer, or any coworker with power over an employee’s job.
Quid pro quo harassment happens when a manager or supervisor implies or explicitly requests sexual acts from an employee in exchange for employment actions. Whether this exchange happens or the request is implied by the employer, it is sexual harassment, and it is illegal. These employment actions may be positive, such as a promotion, raise, bonus, or other incentive. The favor can also be requested at the risk of an adverse employment action, such as wrongful termination, bad performance reviews, demotion, or unfavorable job duty assignments.Both hostile work environments and quid pro quo harassment make for an unsafe workplace. Employers can be held liable for contributing to either form of harassment, for failing to have a policy to prevent harassment, and for failing to properly address harassment they knew about or should have known about.
If you are suffering from any form of workplace harassment, you should begin working with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. The first step in your situation will likely be to use your workplace’s internal methods to resolve the issue. Ideally, the harassment will be addressed.
Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and it may even result in additional harassment or retaliation through termination. In less severe circumstances, a workplace may not do anything to resolve the harassment you face. It can be hard to know how quickly your workplace should solve an issue in a reasonable amount of time. Having an attorney on your side will help you protect your rights during this process.
The Benefits of a Los Angeles Workplace Harassment Lawyer
In order to file a civil claim against an employer for workplace harassment, you must first file a complaint with either the federal agency Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD). Though this may be a new situation for you, an employment lawyer has handled many claims like yours and can guide you through drafting, gathering information and evidence, and filing the claim. An attorney has additional resources to investigate harassment claims and knows what evidence to look for. This legal knowledge will increase the chances that your complaint is approved by the state or federal agency.
If the EEOC or CRD approves the complaint, it will either send you the Right to Sue, or the agency will file a claim against your employer. A state or federal agency is more likely to file a civil claim if multiple employees file complaints against the same employer. When you bring your case to an employment attorney, part of gathering evidence includes determining if other employees or past employees faced similar treatment. If you are granted the Right to Sue by the EEOC or CRD, your attorney can represent you during your civil claim. Your attorney can determine the damages you should rightfully be awarded and advocate for your needs in negotiation or in trial.
How Do I Prove a Hostile Work Environment or Workplace Harassment in California?
Harassment claims can be difficult to prove, particularly if the case is only each party’s word against the other. One of the most important aspects of an effective and successful harassment claim is clear proof of specific instances of harassment and discrimination. Proving hostile work environments or sexual harassment may require evidence such as:
Documentation: Note down events of harassment when they occur, including the date and time. Gather evidence of communications between you and the harassing party, including emails, voicemails, recordings, or other internal communications. Also, retain complaints to and responses from your human resources department, particularly if the HR department brushed aside complaints or did not respond in a reasonable amount of time.
Eye-witnesses: Third parties who witnessed harassing behavior, such as coworkers, are important evidence in a harassment case. Obtain contact information for these individuals.
Coworker experiences: If you are experiencing harassment in the workplace, you may not be the only one. If other coworkers testify to similar experiences with the harassing party, a hostile environment, or an unresponsive HR department, this is useful evidence in your case.
Company policy: If harassment occurs because of the failure of company policy to prevent it, retain a copy of that policy. It may also show how an employer fails to uphold company policy when addressing your harassment complaints or when engaging in harassment.
Filing a harassment claim requires significant evidence to be successful, and the burden of proof is on you and your attorney as the filing party. Not only can it be difficult to find this evidence, but it can also be traumatic for some individuals. Your attorney can guide you through the process.
We Want to Protect Your Employee Rights
No employee should dread going to work because they face sexual harassment or discriminating comments. At California Employment Counsel, APC, we can help you navigate filing with the EEOC or CRD, investigate evidence, and determine the compensation you deserve. We strongly believe that employees should have a safe and secure workplace, and we want to uphold those rights. We can use our years of experience to bring you the strongest advocacy possible. Contact our team today.
Why Speak Up In California
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