Harassment in the workplace is illegal and can be grounds for a lawsuit against your employer. If you have been harassed, discriminated against or bullied at work in San Diego, read on to learn how to protect your rights.
What is workplace harassment?
Harassment comes in many forms. It is most commonly verbal abuse but can include physical harassment, visual harassment (such as when offensive posters or materials are hung in the workplace) or sexual harassment.
Both California and Federal law prohibit workplace harassment. California’s workplace labor laws are governed by the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which is enforced by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC).
It is against the law to discriminate against or harass workers on the basis of:
- Race, color, national origin or ancestry;
- Age (for people older than 40);
- Religion (including religious clothing and practices);
- Mental or physical disability;
- Gender or sexual orientation;
- Family status (including marital status, pregnancy and childbirth); and/or
- Medical condition (including HIV/AIDS).
What should I do if I have been harassed?
First, review your company’s employment policies and follow your company’s procedures for reporting harassment. In California, an employer will not be liable for harassment if it was never reported. Usually, you should report the harassment to the human resources department, your supervisor or both. Your employer has a responsibility to rectify the situation once it is reported.
Additionally, you should keep a record of the instances of harassment. This record can show a pattern of abuse that may be helpful to your case. One thing you should not attempt to do is secretly record the person harassing you. In California, it is illegal to record conversations secretly, and you may face liability yourself.
How do I file a harassment complaint?
If your employer fails to remedy the harassment, you can file a complaint with the FEHC. The FEHC is an independent regulatory agency that has the authority to investigate your claim. If you are not satisfied with your results from the FEHC, or if the process is moving too slowly, you may have the right to bring your case to a regular court of law. In order to do this, you first must obtain a “right to sue” letter from the FEHC. Unlike the FEHC, a court may order additional damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
Why do I need an attorney?
An attorney can help you frame your report to your employer in a way that protects your rights and requires your employer to respond to your complaint.
If your employer does not respond to your complaint, the process of filing a lawsuit involves a complicated maze of administrative, state and federal laws. The attorneys at Hiden, Rott & Oertle, LLP, can file harassment complaints and can ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call 619-630-0205 to set up your free consultation in our San Diego office today!