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Can I Sue For Discrimination? A California Employee Guide
Documents about workplace harassment in an office.

Can I Sue For Discrimination? A California Employee Guide

What All California Workers Should Know About Filing a Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

Do you want to file a workplace harassment lawsuit because your boss discriminated you?

All California workers should know about how this process works.

Every year, more than 100,000 cases of workplace discrimination in the U.S. occur. Or at least, that’s how many the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission closes.

Sounds like a lot of filings, right? The thing is, only 18% of workers actually receive the help they need!

In 2017 alone, there were 84,254 workplace discrimination charges filed with the EEOC.

Retaliation charges accounted for almost half of all charges filed.

So, if you’re thinking about filing a workplace harassment lawsuit, you’re not alone.

The question is, what exactly does workplace harassment in California entail?

And most importantly for you; Do you even have a case?

We’ll try to answer all these questions and more, so keep reading!


A Quick Look at California Discriminatory Laws


California has its own employment law called the “Fair Employment and Housing Act“.

FEHA protects employees who suffer from discrimination because of the following:

  • Race, color, origin, and ancestry
  • Religious belief
  • Age
  • Mental or physical disability or impairment
  • Sexual orientation or gender preference


Gender discrimination, such as being pregnant or breastfeeding habits, is also illegal. Discrimination can also occur against those with a gender-specific medical condition.

It’s also illegal to discriminate against one’s genetic information. Discrimination due to marital, military, or veteran status is also against California law.


Where Workplace Harassment Comes into Play

Workplace harassment can take the form of sexual or non-sexual harassment.

Both are forms of employment discrimination. As such, they’re illegal under California and federal laws.

Harassment at the workplace is any kind of discriminatory behavior or policy. If someone constantly mocks another person at work because of their gender, that could be considered harassment.

If a supervisor ridicules an employee because of their race, that’s harassment.

In short, workplace harassment is any unwelcome and pervasive conduct from another person at work.

These behaviors can be from a single individual or can be from a group of bosses or coworkers.

Note that it’s also illegal for customers to display such behaviors.

Intimidation, bullying, and threats are also forms of harassment. Like physical assaults, these are more severe cases of discrimination.

Under California laws, sexual harassment falls under “quid pro quo harassment”. This happens when a supervisor asks an employee for sexual favors in return for a work benefit. This “benefit” can be a pay increase, a promotion, or to keep the employee’s job.

Any other type of non-sexual harassment falls under “hostile work environment harassment” laws. In California, this means having to work in an intolerable, abusive workplace.


Instances that Already Warrants a Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

Know your rights as a California employee to protect yourself from discrimination. One such right is to serve those discriminating against you with a harassment case.

But first, make sure that these “unwelcome” behaviors or actions are grounds for a lawsuit. For instance, as offensive, as off-color jokes may be to you, they may still not be enough to build a case.

What if your employer forces you to work in such an offensive environment though? And if you don’t agree, you’re in danger of becoming unemployed? In this case, suing for discrimination may already be in order.

Also, consider filing a harassment lawsuit if you have to work in a hostile environment. Especially if the intimidation you receive already affects the way you work.

Or if being at work already makes you feel in danger.


Obvious Signs of Harassment to Look Out For

While most workplace discrimination symptoms are subtle, there are more obvious signs. This can be a sudden change in your performance reviews after you reveal your religion.

Or, you find yourself excluded from events or important meetings and you suspect it is for one of the protected reasons (race, sex, age etc…)

Any graphics or written material that demeans your origin, age, or sex is also harassment. It can also include pranks that have something to do with your disability, race, or pregnancy.

If you always have to deal with people making fun of your accent, that’s also harassment.


What California Workplace Harassment Victims Should Do

Almost 20% of U.S. adults — including both genders — are victims of sexual harassment at the workplace. That’s how common sexual harassment is. Worse, that number doesn’t even include non-sexual harassment.

Regardless of the type of harassment you experience, it’s important to seek legal help. It’s already unsettling, even traumatizing to be a victim. But it can worsen because harassment puts you at a higher risk for anxiety and depression.

If you’ve faced or always face harassment at work, tell someone in your company about it. That can be another supervisor you trust or an HR member. These individuals may help prevent further harassment from occurring.

Even if the unwelcome behavior towards you doesn’t stop, reporting it can help with a lawsuit. From there, visit the California Department of Employment and Housing (DFEH). This is where you’ll file your initial complaint before you can take legal action.

While waiting for the “right to sue” notice from DFEH, contact lawyers for harassment cases. That way, you and your chosen lawyer can be ready as soon as you receive the notice. Once you get the notice, you and your attorney can already file the civil lawsuit.

Be sure to file the complaint with the DFEH within a year from the harassment. You and your lawyer should also file the lawsuit within a year from getting the DFEH notice.

Don’t worry about your employer retaliating against you. Workplace retaliation in California is illegal. That means your employer can’t and shouldn’t fire you for filing a harassment case.


Put a Stop to Workplace Harassment Now

If you’re a target of workplace harassment, now is the best time to speak up. You should never let harassment slide, because this may only invite more harassment. Your harassers may feel overconfident and continue making the workplace intolerable.

Report harassment to your supervisor or HR department as soon as possible. If they can’t do anything about it, proceed to file a workplace harassment lawsuit.

Remember: It’s everyone’s right to work in a healthy, safe, and secure workplace after all.

Want to file a lawsuit but still concerned about workplace retaliation?

If so, then please don’t hesitate to connect with us. I will give you a FREE CONSULTATION

We’ll help you protect your rights as a California employee facing constant harassment.

Below is an interesting Infographic about California Discrimination lawsuits.

California Employment Discrimination Infographic


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