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Workplace harassment

Is Workplace Harassment Happening To You

Posted on September 1, 2016 in Workplace Harassment

Workplace bullies are the most common source of workplace harassment claims in San Diego. It can be torture coming to work each day knowing that your workplace is a hostile environment. You may have even thought about quitting your job.

If you are being harassed, it’s also likely harder to perform your job than it would otherwise be under normal circumstances. You may even suffer from anxiety or depression because you are worried about job security and whether you can maintain your emotional health while continuing to deal with the harassing behaviors.

If you believe that you are being harassed at work, you’d probably like to know what you can do to stop it. You shouldn’t have to continue dealing with harassing behavior that is prohibited by law in the workplace. However, you have to first determine whether or not the harassment is actually illegal.

Under California law, workplace harassment has a very specific definition, namely harassment that is the result of discrimination. To help you identify and take action against illegal workplace harassment, here is some information about harassment and your legal rights under California law.

What Is Workplace Harassment In San Diego?

Workplace harassment generally refers to belittling or threatening behavior that is directed at an individual worker or a group of workers. The harassment may be done by the employer, co-workers, or clients.

Under The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, harassment of employees, applicants, and independent contractors is prohibited. The regulations protect all of these individuals against sexual harassment, gender harassment, harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and harassment due to a medical condition.

In addition, employers must not limit or prohibit the use of any language in a workplace. Employers with 50 or more employees and all public entities are also required to provide sexual harassment prevention training for all supervisors.

It isn’t only the worker’s responsibility to report workplace harassment. Employers must also take the necessary steps to prevent harassment by providing every employee with information on harassment, including the nature, illegality, and legal remedies that are available.

How Do You Know If You Are A Victim Of Workplace Harassment In San Diego?

Workplace harassment may be verbal or physical, or a combination of both. Verbal harassment can include jokes, slurs, name-calling, insults, and innuendos. Physical harassment may include hitting, groping, pushing, or any other unwelcome touching and is most commonly associated with sexual harassment.

If the harassment focuses on targeting those of a specific race, age, sex, national origin, color or religion, it has likely crossed the line into illegal workplace harassment. Although every harassment case is unique, the instances of harassment generally add up to creating a hostile work environment for the victim. It is your employer’s duty to take action to end the harassment by disciplining or warning the harasser.

In other cases, the employer has the option to move the victim, issue a training, or fire the harasser. However, if the employer allows the harassment to continue or retaliates against you for reporting it, you should contact an attorney right away to discuss your legal options.

Types Of Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment comes in many forms. However, the most common types of workplace harassment are:

  • Physical harassment – This type of workplace harassment includes sexual assault and workplace violence. Workplace violence is physical threats and assaults that are targeted at workers.
  • Emotional harassment – This type of workplace harassment includes bullying, which may include false accusations of mistakes or errors, intimidating non-verbal behaviors, yelling, and withholding of resources and information that are required for the worker to successfully perform his or her job. It can also apply to sabotage, defamation, and unfair work demands that are put in place in order to guarantee failure.

If you have been harassed at work or put under unhealthy amounts of stress, you should report the incidents to your employer, giving him or her an opportunity to address the situation. By quitting the job in order to end the harassment, you could actually be giving up on your right to sue for the employer’s violation of California labor law.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination. It is against the law, and if you experience it in the workplace you will be covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title VII. As per the EEOC guidelines, sexual harassment is defined as requests for sexual favors and sexual advances that are not wanted. It also counts as any other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature when the following is true:

  • Conduct of a sexual nature that generates a working environment that is offensive, hostile or intimidating.
  • Conduct of a sexual nature that has the impact or the purpose of interfering with work performance.
  • Rejection of or submission to the conduct is a basis for decisions regarding employment.
  • Submission to sexual conduct is a condition or term of the person’s employment. This does not need to be written. The requirement could be implied.

What is considered sexual harassment very much depends on the people involved and the situation. It could be bribes for sexual activity, requests for sexual favors, sexually suggestive jokes, and brushing against a person or unwelcome touching.

In general, there are two types of sexual harassment claims. This includes hostile work environment claims and quid pro quo sexual harassment. The former is when the harassment makes your place of work feel offensive, hostile, or intimidating.  The former relates to cases whereby employment decisions, such as keeping your job or promotions, are based on your willingness to be sexually harassed.

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Racial harassment

Racial harassment is behavior that is not welcome and happens to you because of your national origin, color, or race. This could physical conduct or verbal conduct of a racial nature. This is deemed a form of employment discrimination, and thus it is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act Title VII. When assessing the strength of each case, the factors that are considered include the following: whether the harasser was a superior within the company, the impact of the situation on the psychological well-being of the victim, whether or not the harassment was humiliating or physically threatening, the severity of the harassment, and the frequency of the unwelcome harassment.

There are generally four different types of racial harassment that can occur in the workplace. This includes visual displays, including Nazi swastikas, hangman’s nooses, emails of a racial nature, screensavers, pictures, drawings, and posters with racial connotations. This also includes nonverbal conduct, for example, stalking or following you and derogatory gestures. Physical conduct is another form of racial harassment, including inappropriately touching you, blocking your movement, assault, and rape. And finally, written or verbal conduct also counts as racial harassment, including telling rumors about your personal life, race-based jokes, comments about your clothing, name-calling, slurs, innuendos, and jokes.

Can I be a victim of racial harassment if I’m not a minority?

Yes, while this is a less common form of racial harassment, it can happen. White people can be racially harassed by someone of any race as well. You will be able to launch a legal claim if the harassment you are experiencing is deemed pervasive and severe, as mentioned in the criteria already discussed.

Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying relates to malicious behavior within your place of work. There are many different ways workplace bullying can take place. This includes being overworked, blatant ostracism, profane outburst, overbearing supervision, constant criticism, demeaning comments, threats, and deliberate insults. The bullying can be subtle in nature, for example, requesting work that is not necessary, blocking promotions, passive-aggressive behavior, sabotaging projects, and supplying work-related information that is not correct.

Is it illegal for my boss to bully or harassment me?

It is only deemed illegal if it is done for an illegal reason. The law demands that your employer cannot treat you differently due to a disability, national origin, religion, race, sex or age. So, if they are harassing you for these reasons, federal law does protect you. However, the law does not require your boss to be fair, kind, or nice. The same applies with regards to co-worker harassment too.

Emotional distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) is a term that is used to describe a situation whereby someone is experiencing circumstances that are so severe, intimidating and cruel that you suffer from a lot of emotional distress. In some cases, employers are breaking the law by attempting to cause serious emotional harm to an employee on purpose. How can you tell whether you are a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress? If your employer’s conduct can be described as one of the following, it is incredibly likely that you have been treated unlawfully…

  • Your employer’s conduct caused serious and severe emotional distress for you.
  • Your employer’s conduct was intended to create a reasonable person – you – serious emotional trauma.
  • Your employer’s conduct was outrageous and extreme. It went beyond what is considered acceptable conduct in today’s civilized society.

Is it difficult to prove I’ve been a victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress?

This does largely depend on what has happened to you and the nature of the incident. However, there are a number of things you do need to make sure you can prove if you want your claim to be a success. You firstly need to show that there has been outrageous and extreme conduct by your employer or someone that represents your employer. Once you have done this, you then need to prove that your employer acted in this manner for the purpose of causing you to suffer from extreme emotional distress. Basically, they must have known that this was the likely outcome of your actions. Aside from this, you must show that you experienced extreme or severe emotional distress, and you need to prove that the conduct of your employer is the reason you experienced this distress.

What To Do If You Believe You Have A Workplace Harassment Case In San Diego?

If you believe that you are a victim of workplace harassment, you shouldn’t feel afraid or embarrassed to seek legal action for your claim. In most cases, if nothing or not enough has been done to resolve the problem, your employer is in violation of the law.

Obtain legal counsel right away from a San Diego employment attorney. Delaying your claim or quitting your job first could significantly reduce your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries. If you’d like us to review your case, send us an email or call Walker Law at (619) 839-9978 to schedule your free consultation.

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