Things to Prove When Filing a Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

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Workplace harassment generally refers to an unfair or harsh behavior by a supervisor, co-worker, manager, or employer. However, according to California law, harassment is a conduct that is offensive, unwelcoming, based on the victim’s protected characteristics, or harsh enough to have an effect on terms and conditions of the employment of the victim. Therefore, to win the workplace harassment lawsuit, you will need to prove these elements in court with the help of an experienced California employment attorney.

Offensive Conduct

As per the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, harassment can be of two types: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment refers to cases of sexual harassment, such as when a supervisor or manager asks you for sexual favors in return of some benefit at work like a raise or promotion. Hostile work environment harassment, on the other hand, refers to any kind of inappropriate behavior from a co-worker or employer that makes it difficult for you to continue to work, such as belittling comments, constant mocking, sexual gestures, etc.

Simply put, workplace harassment can be of many forms, ranging from offensive jokes and name-calling based on race, religion, or ethnicity, to insulting, threats, and physical abuse. It may or may not be sexual harassment, but any such offensive conduct can make the working conditions tough for you. You can consult with your California injury lawyer to learn how to proceed with the case if you face such problems at the workplace. If you are an employer who is facing allegations of sexual harassment within your business you are also entitled to a legal defense to protect yourself against libel and defamation.

Unwelcoming Conduct

Workplace harassment can only be deemed against the law in California court if the conduct is unwelcoming to you. Therefore, if you experience constant insulting, derogatory comments, or direct threats of violence from your supervisor, co-worker, or employer, then you can prove that unwelcoming conduct in court to get a favorable ruling. However, proving unwelcoming conduct in sexual harassment cases can be a bit difficult, as most of the sexual comments, gestures, or jokes may not seem to be offending at first.

For instance, if you did not appear to be uncomfortable or offended when the harasser made some lewd jokes and even commented on them in a similar manner, then it can be very difficult to prove that the conduct was unwelcoming. That is why you need to work with a reliable California workplace harassment lawyer and understand all your options before moving forward with the lawsuit. Your lawyer can also help you to prove the unwelcoming conduct of the harasser in court so that the ruling is in your best favor.

Discrimination against Protected Characteristics

As per the California employment laws, protected characteristics means “race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status” of a person. Any employee who is discriminated against based on these characteristics can file a workplace harassment lawsuit.

The federal laws, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, can also categorize other characteristics as protected in order to prohibit discrimination and harassment at the workplace. Note that general grievances on working conditions are not enough to prove workplace harassment, unless, for instance, you are subjected to more strenuous work or tougher supervision because of your protected characteristics.

Harsh or Pervasive Conduct

Workplace harassment is considered unlawful only when there is a series of incidents that negatively affect your working conditions. A single teasing comment, sexual joke, or asking you out for a date do not usually qualify as per California law to file a workplace harassment lawsuit. Sometimes, even one-time offensive name-calling does not constitute workplace harassment. However, in extreme cases, such as physical abuse and assault, a single act can be enough to consider it as workplace harassment.

There is no definite number to say when repeated name-calling or teasing crosses the line to become workplace harassment. When you file the lawsuit, the court will look into how all these actions and circumstances made it difficult for you to continue your employment. The more severe and harsh the conduct is, the easier it will be for the court to hold the employer or supervisor liable for workplace harassment.

Terms and Conditions of Employment

Workplace harassment can affect the terms and conditions of employment in many ways. For instance, if the harasser is your supervisor or manager, harassment can take the form of unfair job action. This may include laying you off, rejecting promotion, disallowing employee benefits, imposing pointless fines and penalties, not approving leave, assigning more onerous tasks, an abrupt job transfer, etc.

When you file a workplace harassment lawsuit, you will be required to prove that such negative acts by your supervisor, manager, or employer made it difficult for you to continue working there. Remember that it should be a reasonable cause and not just that you believe that the workplace is hostile. In other words, the changes in circumstances should be such that it would have made it difficult for any employee to continue his/her employment at the workplace. If you are a supervisor or employer who is allegedly accused of workplace harassment, a California lawyer will also be able to help you disprove alleged conduct and or actions and help you clear your name from false accusations.

Contact the attornies at Davidovich Stein Law Group today to schedule a free consultation on your workplace harassment lawsuit.

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