Employers in California and throughout the country are required to abide by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Various laws prohibit discrimination based on protected attributes such as disability, gender, race or national origin. Under federal law, workplace harassment of any kind is generally considered to be a form of discrimination.
Discrimination can be physical or verbal
Using a racial slur or posting an offensive symbol on an employee’s computer could be seen as acts of discrimination. Furthermore, making fun of a person’s accent or disability could also be discriminatory in nature. If an employer terminates or demotes a worker because he or she is disabled or from a certain country, that action may be seen as harassment.
The actions must be severe or pervasive
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment must be severe or pervasive to rise to the level of discrimination. Generally speaking, a single joke or comment is generally not considered to be anything other than mildly annoying or offensive. However, if you hear the same jokes or comments on a daily basis, you may have sufficient grounds to pursue legal action.
Harassment may create a hostile workplace
If you are scared to venture into an employee lounge because you are afraid of being mocked or harassed, that may be evidence of a hostile workplace. If you don’t like talking to your colleagues in general for fear that you’ll be teased about your religion or gender, you may also be experiencing a hostile workplace.
An employment law attorney may be able to help you take action to hold your employer accountable if you are the victim of sexual harassment. An attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement or file a lawsuit on your behalf. If your claim is successful, it might be possible to obtain financial compensation or other relief.