Is my employer in California legally allowed to harass me?

15 Feb 2018

I’m very sorry to hear that your employer is harassing you. Being in a difficult job situation can affect all aspects of your life. If your boss is harassing you and you believe the conduct is illegal, you may wish to speak with an attorney about your legal rights.

No boss is legally required to be a nice person. Bosses can be rude jerks who mistreat their employees. However, some forms of harassment are considered illegal. Harassment can be considered as a form of employment discrimination that violates federal employment laws.
Under federal law, harassment is any unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age (if over 40), disability, and genetic information. In California, it is also illegal to harass employees based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and military or veteran status. Harassment becomes illegal if the conduct becomes severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment that a reasonable person could consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Harassment is also illegal if enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment.

Some examples of offensive conduct include offensive jokes or slurs, name calling, intimidation, insults, offensive objects or pictures, and physical assaults or threats. Isolated incidents or minor slights do not rise to the level of being considered illegal. The harasser does not have to be the employee’s supervisor – he or she may be a supervisor in another area, a coworker, or even a non-employee of the business.

If you believe that are being illegally harassed in the workplace, you should take steps to prevent and correct the behavior. Communicate to your employees that the conduct will not be tolerated. If the behavior is not corrected, or if you are disciplined for mentioning the harassment, you should speak to an attorney. If you are in Los Angeles, call me, Conal Doyle, California employment attorney, at 310-385-0567. I can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation on your case.