What Is Considered Harassment at Work?

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: February 3, 2021

We all know that harassment is wrong but unfortunately, it still happens too often at work. Employers should protect their employees and ensure a safe working environment, but that’s not always the case.

In California, workers are legally protected from unlawful harassment at work. Although not every action is considered unlawful harassment, it’s important to know which ones are. Just as important, California workers should know about their employment rights and the laws that protect them.

Laws That Prohibit Workplace Harassment

Harassment at work is a serious issue. Fortunately, state and federal laws protect California employees from workplace harassment including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, or national origin.
  • The Age Discrimination Act – Protects individuals against harassment and age-related discrimination for those over the age of 40.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act – Protects individuals with physical or mental disabilities from harassment and discrimination based on their disability.
  • The Fair Employment and Housing Act – Also known as “FEHA”, California state law that makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate based on a protected characteristic.

Protected Characteristics in California

California law protects employees from illegal harassment and discrimination based on the following characteristics:

  • Age (40 and older)
  • Race, color, national origin, or ancestry
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, breastfeeding, or childbirth)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender or gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Military or veteran status
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Medical condition
  • Genetic information

This protection applies to California workers in both public and private employers. It also applies to labor organizations, employment agencies, and apprentice training programs.

Common Examples of Workplace Harassment

One of the most common examples of workplace harassment is unwanted physical touching. When someone touches you without your consent, it can be extremely traumatizing.

Examples of unwanted physical touch can include:

  • Unwanted kissing, hugging, groping, fondling, or caressing
  • A supervisor or coworker putting their hands on any part of your body
  • A coworker cornering you or brushing up against yours without permission
  • A coworker massaging your neck or shoulder without consent
  • Coerced or forced sexual activity

Unwanted physical touching can be considered sexual harassment. Same-sex unwelcomed touching can also be considered sexual harassment.

Harassment doesn’t just have to be physical. Another common example of workplace harassment includes verbal forms such as derogatory comments made by coworkers or supervisors.

Examples of verbal harassment can include:

  • Racial jokes, insults, or slurs
  • Comments directed towards women or minorities workers
  • Verbally mocking a coworker’s accent
  • Insensitive comments about a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs

If you’ve experienced any of these scenarios or have been in a similar situation, report the abuse to your supervisor and Human Resources department immediately. Next, speak with an experienced harassment attorney as soon as possible. Our top harassment attorneys have handled many harassment lawsuits and can help you with your case.

Contact a Los Angeles Workplace Harassment Attorney Today

If your employer has failed to protect you from harassment at work, we can help. If you have been a victim of unlawful harassment or discrimination, you have the right to file a claim. A workplace harassment attorney in our Los Angeles office can help you get justice against your employer and the maximum compensation for your case. Contact Mesriani Law Group today for a legal consultation.