Everyone has a right to a harassment-free workplace. Of course, there will always be those employees you find rude or inappropriate, but when their behavior becomes intolerable—and is directed toward a legally protected character trait—the conduct could escalate from annoying to illegal. This line can be difficult to draw, but if you think it has been crossed, speak to a Sacramento workplace harassment lawyer. Erkel Law, P.C. can help clarify your situation, and if appropriate, fight to get you the remedy you deserve.

Protected Traits in Workplace Harassment Cases

To be considered unlawful workplace harassment, the conduct must be directed at a legally protected trait. Both California and federal law provide protected classifications, with California’s being more expansive. The following traits are protected under California Gov. Code §12940(j)(1):

  • Age (over 40)
  • Marital status
  • Race or color
  • Religious creed
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military or veteran status
  • National origin and ancestry
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Reproductive health decision-making
  • Sex and gender (including gender expression and gender identity)

Unwelcome conduct based on any of these traits may form the basis of legal action. And remember, one does not need to be a member of a group perceived as disadvantaged or a minority to receive protection under these laws. Anyone harassed because of these character traits is dealing with workplace harassment and should speak to an attorney in Sacramento.

Hostile Work Environments

The law does not protect against all inappropriate or obnoxious behavior. To be actionable, the conduct must create a hostile work environment. This is not a clearly defined term, and our workplace harassment lawyer in Sacramento works hard to establish that a set of facts meets the definition. The conduct must be “severe and pervasive” to rise to the level of unlawful harassment. However, a single comment or incident can be sufficiently severe to meet the standard if the conduct has the effect of creating a work environment that is abusive and intimidating. Also, it is not necessary for a person’s work to have declined. What is important is that a reasonable person experiencing the work environment would find it more difficult to do their job.

A hostile work environment can be created by physical, verbal, and nonverbal conduct. Verbal comments such as derogatory slurs, threats, and other offensive comments can also be harassment. Nonverbal harassment might take the form of showing graphic images, displaying offensive content, or wearing clothing with offensive symbols.

Liability for Workplace Harassment

When workplace harassment is established, the individuals doing the harassing are liable for their own conduct—but in most cases the employer is liable as well. Employers have a duty to maintain a workplace free of harassment. If an employer or its supervisors know of harassment—or have reason to know of it—and do not take reasonable steps to stop it, they are liable for the conduct. This duty even applies to the conduct of nonemployees. When liability is established, a person is entitled to damages. Damages is another word for compensation and may include monetary awards for lost wages, back and front pay, and emotional distress.

Establishing liability for workplace harassment can be tricky. Any Sacramento worker experiencing harassment should keep careful records of the incidents, the people involved, and all the surrounding circumstances. This will greatly assist a workplace harassment attorney in reviewing the case.

Rely on a Workplace Harassment Attorney in Sacramento

An abusive work environment does not just make the workday harder; it threatens to destabilize a person’s entire sense of security. We go to work to support ourselves and the people we care about, and workplace harassment threatens our ability to do so. No one should have to deal with it, and a workplace harassment attorney in Sacramento could help get you an appropriate remedy. If you are dealing with workplace harassment, call Erkel Law, P.C. today for an initial consultation.

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