Riverside Hostile Work Environment Lawyers
Fighting Against Sexual Harassment in Workplaces Across Southern California
California law prohibits discrimination in the workplace. That includes discrimination based on sex, race, gender, national origin, sexual identity, and a number of other immutable characteristics. California law also prohibits unlawful harassment in the workplace. Harassment, and especially sexual harassment, often takes the form of creating a “hostile work environment” for one or more employees.
If you’ve experienced a hostile work environment or other forms of harassment or discrimination in your workplace, you are not alone. The hostile work environment and sexual harassment lawyers at Ochoa & Calderón have spent years protecting the rights of California workers, and we will not allow your hostile treatment to continue. We will help you hold your employer accountable for fostering an abusive workplace environment and the trauma you’ve been forced to suffer.
What is a Hostile Workplace?
“Hostile work environment” carries a specific legal meaning in California. A claim for workplace harassment can be premised upon a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is created by inappropriate workplace behavior that is so severe or so pervasive as to create an abusive work atmosphere for one or more employees. A hostile work environment is a form of harassment prohibited by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Hostile work environment claims are often premised upon sexual harassment or other gender-based harassment. However, a hostile work environment can be created by way of other forms of harassing conduct based on a worker’s race, religion, disability, or some other protected characteristic.
A hostile work environment can be created by the conduct of coworkers or the conduct of superiors, although the standards differ for establishing employer liability. Hostile work environment harassment is technically a separate claim from discrimination, but often the conduct goes hand-in-hand and a given employee will assert both harassment and discrimination. Hostile work environment harassment is distinguished from “quid-pro-quo” harassment, which takes place when a supervisor conditions benefits of employment on an exchange of sexual favors.
Severe or Pervasive Bullying
A hostile work environment is essentially a claim for unlawful workplace bullying. The conduct is unlawful when it is premised upon a protected characteristic–sex, gender, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, etc.–and when the conduct is either so severe or so pervasive as to create an untenable environment for an employee or group of employees.
To be pervasive, the conduct must be repeated over a period of time. That means the conduct should not be occasional, isolated or sporadic. A one-off uncouth comment will not give rise to a hostile work environment claim. However, daily sexual jokes from coworkers coupled with a supervisor who is unwilling to prevent the conduct may give rise to such a claim.
A hostile work environment claim can also be based on a single instance or isolated incidents if the conduct is especially severe. Typically, that means the conduct constituted a threat to the victim’s physical safety or well-being. A California court will evaluate the alleged conduct via a “reasonable person” standard and determine from both an objective and subjective standpoint whether the complaining employee was subjected to a hostile work environment. An employee who is not part of a protected class but whose safety is threatened might still have a claim for hostile work environment harassment.
Employer Liability for Hostile Work Environment
If a supervisor commits harassing conduct that gives rise to a hostile work environment, the employer will be strictly liable for hostile work environment harassment. If, however, the conduct is perpetrated by coworkers on the same level as the victim, the victim will need to establish that the supervisor or other representative of the employer was somehow negligent. The victim may show, for example, that the supervisor saw or heard the conduct repeatedly and never made efforts to put a stop to it, or that the victim complained to human resources and no corrective action was ever taken.
Speak with a seasoned California hostile work environment attorney if you have been subjected to harassment in your workplace. Your attorney will help you evaluate the conduct you’ve experienced and determine who may be held liable for the harm you have suffered.
Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Serving Riverside and Southern California
If you have experienced hostile work environment harassment in the workplace in violation of California state or federal law, reach out to Ochoa & Calderón for a free consultation. We take appropriate cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only charge a fee if we are successful on your behalf, and our fees come as a percentage of the amount we recover for you. You’ve got nothing to lose by calling now, but you could miss out on enforcing your legal rights if you wait too long. Call us at 951-901-4444 in Riverside or throughout Southern California at 844-401-0750. Our lawyers are standing by to fight for you.