Harassment is unwanted conduct of an unlawful nature. If the harassing conduct is so severe and frequent that it affects the victim’s ability to do her or his job, this is called a “hostile work environment.”
Have You Been Harassed At Work?
Harassment can take many forms.
- When a supervisor, manager or employer demands sex in return for a raise, continued employment or promotion, this is sexual harassment.
- Off-color jokes, pin-up photographs of naked men or women, Internet pornography on work computers and unwanted touching are all examples of sexual harassment.
- Racial slurs are an example of racial harassment.
The law allows someone in a protected class ( age, sex, disability, race, sexual orientation) to sue a harasser as well as the company/employer. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment or any other kind of harassment in the workplace, contact the San Francisco harassment attorneys at the Dolan Law Firm online or by calling 415-421-2800. We’re here to protect your rights in the workplace.
Experienced Employment Lawyers With the Largest Verdict on Record
Harassment attorney Christopher Dolan and the Dolan Law Firm won the largest recorded verdict in employment discrimination in the U.S. We obtained a verdict of $62 million for two Arab-American employees who suffered discrimination and harassment at FedEx Ground.
Your case will be handled with skill and care. Mr. Dolan was chosen California Employment Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine. We were selected as Best in the Bay by KRON-4 TV and named as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Northern California.
Can a Company Be Sued for Harassment?
Under California law, an employer is obligated to take all steps necessary to prevent harassment. Usually, this involves having a corporate anti-discrimination policy, a harassment policy and supervisor training. If an employer does not have a policy or program to prevent harassment, it may be held liable for failing to take steps to prevent harassment.
If an employee WHO IS NOT A SUPERVISOR engages in harassment, the company must have actual knowledge of the harassment before it can be held liable for damages. In such situations, the conduct must be so open and obvious that the company should have known about it.
On the other hand, if the employee reported the harassing conduct to a supervisor and then it happened again, the company can be held liable for damages. The company should have taken prompt and sufficient action to stop further harassment. If nothing was done or if too little was done, the company becomes liable for the conduct of its employees.
If the employee IS A SUPERVISOR, FOREPERSON, MANAGER, OWNER, DIRECTOR or OFFICER of the company, the company is automatically liable for harassment. That is because the company’s eyes and ears are its supervisors and managers. If they engage in unlawful conduct, it is presumed that the company knows about it.
What to Do if You Are Being Harassed
Many companies have a reporting structure in place for complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. Look in your employee handbook or at the company’s sexual harassment policy (if there is one) to see who is designated to receive complaints.
Follow your company’s reporting requirements whenever possible. If the harasser is the one you should be reporting to, report it to HR or the harasser’s supervisor.
ANY REPORTS SHOULD BE IN WRITING and you should keep a copy for yourself. Keep notes of whom you spoke to, when and what was said. Identify any witnesses.
If the harassment is so terrible or the working conditions so severe or physically dangerous that no reasonable person would consider continuing to work, then you may quit. This is called “constructive termination” and you can seek damages for lost wages.
However, employees cannot quit and sue after a single incident of harassment. Employees are expected to use all available means to resolve their employment issue. Only if that fails and the harassing behavior continues can the employee quit and seek compensation.
The law protects people from being retaliated against for exercising their rights in the workplace, including the right to be free from harassment.
Filing a Harassment Complaint
In California, if you have suffered harassment based upon your membership in a protected class (such as age, race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, etc.), it is a violation of your rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Before you bring a lawsuit, you must first file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), generally within one year of the incident, to pursue legal action. You must file a complaint before you can file a lawsuit.
Contact our Harassment Lawyers
If you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination because of gender, sexual orientation, age or contractor status, the employment law attorneys of the Dolan Law Firm are dedicated to helping you. Contact us online or call 415-421-2800 for a free case evaluation.