Employment Harassment and Discrimination Attorneys in Walnut Creek
In California, it’s illegal to subject employees to harassment and discrimination in the workplace because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression. For example, it is against the law to demand sexual favors in exchange for remaining employed or to create a hostile work environment by excessively unprofessional, sexist behavior. If you or someone you know is enduring this type of mistreatment on the job, know that we are here to put a stop to it. Whether you are being victimized by a supervisor, fellow coworker, vendor, contractor, or regular customer, you have the right to file a harassment or discrimination case and hold the offending party accountable. Bay Area employment discrimination lawyers at the Vanegas Law Group are here to fight on your behalf and help you improve your place of work.
Confused about the difference between workplace sexual harassment and sex discrimination? Below is a quick overview of each to help explain these often-conflated terms:
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace may be one of two specific behaviors:
Quid Pro Quo Harassment
This type of sexual harassment involves an employee with seniority or authority over another who ties the receipt of employment benefits to exchanging sexual favors. The translation of the term means “this for that.” This behavior is presumed to be unlawful without having to prove that it was unwelcome or that it created a “hostile” work environment.
Hostile Work Environment
Harassment of this type typically involves a member of the workplace engaging in pervasively offensive behavior toward another employee because of that employee’s sex, but not always motivated by sexual desire. The behavior can be explicitly sexual or non-sexual and can involve fellow employees and supervisors alike. As you can see, harassment in the workplace is a form of bullying and has nothing really to do with the actual job duties that should be performed.
What is Workplace Harassment Based on Protected Class?
California also prohibits harassment of an employee based on their membership in a protected class or association with members of protected classes. These protected bases include race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, age, or veteran or military status.
Workplace harassment includes behavior such as:
- Making insulting race-based jokes
- Sending communications that are sexually suggestive or explicit
- Sharing or displaying materials that are pornographic or racially offensive
- Making inappropriate comments or jokes about someone’s disability
- Asking personal questions that are intrusive
All of these behaviors create a hostile work environment for the victim and, if they are also objectively offensive, these behaviors are actionable against the harasser. If the harassment is committed by the supervisor of the victim, or if the employer knew about the harassment but did nothing to correct it, the employer is also liable for damages.
As disheartening as your experience might have been, in certain situations, state and federal law allows those who were harassed to sue not only the individual harasser but their employer as well. If you have been victimized in the workplace by someone engaging in this or similar behavior and all attempts to stop the harassment have failed, you have allies in this fight. Do not delay—reach out to the harassment and discrimination attorneys of the Vanegas Law Group for further information about your rights.
What is Employment Discrimination?
Workplace discrimination focuses on biased employment actions against employees of the protected classes. Situations, where this is most apparent, may be one of the following:
- During staff recruitment and selection
- In the terms, conditions, benefits, and “perks” of employment, including
- Training opportunities
- Transfer and promotion opportunities
- Wages and wage increases
- Leave Approvals
- During downsizing or restructuring of a company
However, not all discriminatory actions are against the law. For example, the law requires an employer to treat disabled employees more favorably by requiring an employer to accommodate their disability. It is also lawful to have different conditions for different groups of employees as long as these differences are “bona-fide occupational qualifications.” And, finally, the law always prohibits the disparate treatment of an employee, but only under specific circumstances forbids the disparate impact of a neutral employment policy. If this is confusing, do not be alarmed. The experienced employment discrimination and harassment attorneys of the Vanegas Law Group will advise you of your rights in the workplace depending on your specific situation. We will formulate a strategy and a step-by-step process to fight back on your behalf.
What to Do if You Are Being Harassed or Discriminated Against at Work
One of the most frequent questions received by our employer discrimination and harassment attorneys is what one should do if experiencing repeated toxic behavior on the job. We recommend reviewing your employee handbook for the specific reporting procedures. You should also check all the policies in place to deal with abusive conduct.
It’s important to report to the company what is happening regardless of what might be said to you by other employees or the person harassing you. Most companies want to know about this kind of illegal behavior as soon as possible so they can put a stop to it. Retaliation against an employee who makes a harassment or discrimination complaint is also against the law.
Vanegas Law Group Attorneys Can Help
Please consult with one of our skilled attorneys at Vanegas Law Group before taking any further action, like quitting your position in despair. We will advise you as to your rights and next steps.
If you are unsure if your experiences with harassment and work discrimination constitute a violation of the law, or you need help taking legal action, reach out to one of our experienced lawyers right away for assistance. The Vanegas Law Group can provide invaluable insight into how the laws protect you and help you file a complaint. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to advise you about your legal matter.