Harassment in the Workplace
In California, workplace harassment is a form of discrimination when it is based on your race, gender, national origin, age, disability, perceived disability, record of a disability, religion, sexual orientation, or retaliation for a prior complaint of unlawful activity. Depending on the facts of your particular situation, federal harassment laws may also apply.
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Hostile Work Environment Harassment Definition
When workplace harassment is so frequent (or severe) that it fundamentally alters your work environment and turns it into an abusive workplace, this is called "hostile work environment harassment." For example, if anyone at work routinely makes unwanted and offensive racial or sexual comments, "jokes" or advances to you or to others, or touches you in an inappropriate way, or does any combination of these things, you could potentially have a strong claim for workplace harassment.
Generally speaking, a single comment or incident of harassment cannot create a hostile work environment, unless it is so extreme that it shocks the judge or jury - for example, a workplace rape or other violent sexual assault. For advice on whether or not you have experienced a legally-recognized "hostile work environment," please call, text or email us for a free and confidential consultation.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment Definition
A less common form of harassment occurs when a manager tells a subordinate that he or she will receive favorable treatment (or avoid unfavorable treatment) if he or she complies with an improper request. For example, if your boss offers you a promotion in exchange for sexual favors, this is a form of "quid pro quo harassment." Loosely translated, "quid pro quo" is Latin for "something given or received for something else."
If you have experienced either form of harassment, it is important to follow your company's procedures for making a complaint. For assistance making a complaint, please contact Workers' Counsel at your convenience.
Whether or not you have already filed a complaint, please contact Workers' Counsel immediately if you believe you were subjected to illegal harassment at work. Please be mindful of your deadline to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or, if your situation arose in California, with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).