If you believe that you’ve been unlawfully harassed at work, then you should contact a harassment lawyer. Don’t let your boss or co-worker continue to treat you like garbage. Take a stand. Harassment in the workplace decreases productivity, destroys relationships, causes anxiety, and ruins careers. Sadly, we’ve found that many employers don’t care if harassment is occurring and will not stop unless threatened by a lawyer.
Contact Branigan Robertson for information concerning your rights. Mr. Robertson handles many types of harassment cases. Call and we will provide you with a free consultation to determine if you have a case. Our office works on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us unless we successfully settle your case or win at trial.
Sexual Harassment Page
Sexual harassment is the most commonly recognized form of harassment. We’ve written an entire page dedicated to our sexual harassment legal services. If you want to learn more about the two types of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and quid pro quo, visit this page for more information. If you’ve been harassed in another manner, continue reading below.
What is Harassment?
How do you define harassment? There are several types of unlawful workplace harassment and hostile work environments. The most common type that people hear about is sexual harassment. However, the California Constitution and Fair Employment & Housing Act strive to prevent many types of harassment as workplace harassment of any type can be extremely damaging.
What is key to realize is that harassment becomes unlawful when the perpetrator is harassing the victim because of a protected characteristic (see below). What this means is that your boss might not be violating the law if he or she is being mean and demeaning to you. The critical element is that he or she is harassing you because of one of the below categories:
If a supervisor harasses you, the employer is automatically liable. However, in order to hold the employer liable for coworker hostile work environment, the employee must show the employer knew or should have known the harassment was occurring and failed to take action. Of course, the individual harasser can still be held personally liable even if the employer didn’t know or it was shown the employer had no reason to know of the bad behavior.
To find out if the basis for your harassment is unlawful, contact our office for a consultation. Mr. Robertson is a harassment lawyer who will tell you whether your case is worth pursing.
If your supervisor is picking on you because of one of the above categories, does the conduct rise to the level of harassment? The Fair Employment & Housing Commission defines “harassment” as:
- verbal harassment, such as epithets, derogatory comments or slurs (or repeated romantic overtures, sexual comments and jokes or prying into one’s personal affairs); or
- physical harassment, such as unwanted touching, rubbing against someone, assault and physical interference with movement or work; or
- visual harassment, such as derogatory cartoons, drawings or posters, lewd gestures or leering.
This conduct must be predicated on a protected category (sexual, disability, race, etc). If your boss is harassing you simply because he doesn’t like your work product, no law is being broken. The best way to find out whether or not your harassment is legally protected is to contact an employment lawyer.
Hostile Work Environment Examples
There are lots of misconceptions as to what constitutes a hostile work environment. In reality, it is narrowly defined in the law. Read our blog post on what the legal requirements are to qualify as a hostile work environment (HWE). Here is a synopsis:
A HWE can be manifested by various kinds of verbal and physical conduct, thereby creating a hostile or offensive working environment. However, this does not mean that any kind of verbal or physical conduct against an employee creates a HWE. Rather, the courts have laid out a specific test with requirements that an employee must satisfy in order to establish a hostile work environment. A harassment lawyer will quickly ask you specific questions to see if you’re suffering from a hostile work environment.
A Hostile Work Environment Requires a Protected Characteristic
First, to establish a hostile work environment under FEHA, the employee must first show that the harassment creating the hostile work environment was based on a protected characteristic. A protected characteristic includes race, national origin, gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, or disability.
This basically means that the employer’s discriminatory conduct must be motivated or caused by the employee’s protected characteristic. For example, a hostile work environment is created if a supervisor uses offensive jokes, slurs or name calling, intimidation, ridicule, and insults against an employee because the employee is black, gay, unmarried, christian, or in a wheelchair.
The Environment Must be Severe or Pervasive so as to Alter the Working Conditions
Second, the employee must show that the harassment was so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment. Basically, all this means is that a reasonable person, viewing the work environment from the outside, would perceive it as hostile or abusive. To determine this, the following factors are considered are frequency of the discriminatory conduct, and the severity of the conduct.
Harassment Lawyer Advice
Should you sue for harassment? Is it worth it? That depends. Any good harassment attorney knows that harassment discrimination law is complicated. Every hostile work environment case is different and every client is different. The best way to find out if you have a good case is to call a harassment lawyer for advice. Our office offers free consultations. Don’t stand for workplace discrimination or unlawful harassing behavior!