Discrimination & Harassment
Discriminatory employment practices in California are prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”1. These protections are essentially derived from the federal equivalent under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. California tends to be broader and more encompassing than its federal counterpart, but, together, they protect employees against discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, medical condition, marital status, immigration status, and pregnancy. It is not necessary under these laws to prove discriminatory intent, but only disparate impact – that is, that the employer treated you differently than other employees on the basis of one of these protected classes.
Unlawful conduct under FEHA or Title VII may be filed with respective state and federal agencies. There are administrative processes that an aggrieved party needs to be aware of, as well as strict time constraints. There are also duties to “mitigate damages” which means that a terminated employee must make a concerted effort to seek employment and cannot simply sit around waiting for the ex-employer to pay them for lost wages.
It is important to talk to an attorney as soon as an employee is terminated for a comprehensive understanding of their rights and legal processes. San Diego Employment Discrimination Lawyer Donald A. Green represents aggrieved ex-employees with the DFEH, EEOC and in State and Federal courts. Contact him if you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation at (800) 994-2889.
Sexual harassment is often coupled with hostile work environment. The victim of sexual harassment frequently feels stress, anxiety, humiliation, and degradation as a result. Because they are usually subordinates, they often feel powerless and unable to function or perform their job properly. Even worse, many times victims of sexual harassment report such conduct to their human resources department or superiors who may dismiss their claims as exaggerated or unwarranted. At the extreme, they may be labeled as a troublemaker or liar, and demoted or suffer further adverse employment actions.
Under state and federal law, sexual harassment requires:
- An unwelcome sexual advance, conduct or comments;
- The harassment complained of was based on sex; and
- The harassment is so severe and pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.
These elements may be difficult to prove from direct evidence, and often require significant circumstantial evidence, getting in the head of the employer to establish their motivation. Other times, the conduct is so evident that a case against an employer for sexual harassment may seem fairly cut and dry, especially when there are witnesses willing to testify.
There are a multitude of types of damages for sexual harassment, including out-of-pocket economic losses as well as emotional distress, and possibly punitive damages, especially where an employer knowingly condones and essentially ratifies the conduct complained of.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, fo not hesitate to contact competent counsel to discuss your legal rights. The San Diego Sexual Harassment Lawyers at the Law Offices of Donald A. Green provides consultations for no fee. Call now to discuss your situation at 800-994-2889.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment is one in which an employee is harassed on any basis prohibited by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Conduct prohibited under this law includes verbal harassment (epithets, derogatory comments or slurs), physical harassment (assault, impeding or blocking movement, or any physical interference with normal work or movement), and visual harassment (derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings). The California Code of Regulations also specify that unwanted sexual advances which condition an employment benefit upon an exchange of sexual favors constitute harassment. See also, sexual harassment.
A hostile work environment creates enormous stress and anxiety, and may in fact lead a person to quit their job. If the reasons for quitting are based on harassment, an employee may have a claim for wrongful termination, even if they weren’t terminated but in fact quit, because such actions could be construed as a constructive discharge under the law. A constructive discharge is just as legally significant as a wrongful termination.
In most cases, there is no requirement that the employee suffer a loss of employment benefits, or even that there was any psychological harm. However, that is rarely the case. Harassment and hostile work environments usually result in high stress, and occasionally even disability, leading to further strains on family and society.
It is important that you seek legal counsel if you have experienced harassment in the work place or a hostile work environment. Contact San Diego Hostile Work Environment Lawyer Donald A. Green at 800-994-2889 today for a free consultation and to discuss your legal rights.