What is Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

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California law offers workers strong protections in cases of workplace injury and harassment. One of these forms of harassment is “hostile work environment harassment”, which describes inappropriate behavior by a supervisor or employer, to the degree that it becomes difficult for the employee to continue working in that workplace. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act ensures that every employee has the right to file a workplace harassment lawsuit if they believe that the severe or pervasive conduct of their supervisor or employer has created an abusive work atmosphere in the company.

What Constitutes Hostile Work Environment Harassment?

Hostile work environment harassment is one of the main workplace discrimination types recognized by California employment law. It may or may not be sexual or gender-based. This type of workplace harassment can also be based on race, religious beliefs, or physical conditions of the employee. In other words, hostile work environment harassment can be considered a form of bullying in the workplace. An employee can file a legal complaint when the bullying becomes persistent and makes working conditions difficult for them.

In order to be eligible to file a lawsuit, the employee should be able to prove that the behavior of the harasser was pervasive or severe, and whether or not it was based on a protected trait. According to California employment law, employers cannot discriminate against an employee based on sex, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, religion, age, disability, nationality, or military/veteran status. Any kind of pervasive or severe behavior based on these protected traits will make a case more serious. However, occasional, sporadic, or trivial behaviors may not be counted as workplace harassment.

In the eyes of law, the behavior of the supervisor or employer makes it hostile work environment only when it happens repeatedly. It can also be considered hostile work environment harassment if physical abuse is involved or if the supervisor or employer makes a direct threat to the safety of the employee.

Note that there is a slight difference between hostile work environment harassment and employment discrimination. Hostile work environment harassment happens when the supervisor or employer misbehaves with the employee based on their protected traits in a way that is not related to their employment or in an otherwise interpersonal manner. On the other hand, employment discrimination is when the supervisor or employer treats an employee differently through official employment actions, such as hiring or firing, or shift assignment. Both workplace harassment and workplace discrimination are prohibited by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and can lead to serious consequences for the employer. Contacting a California employment law attorney can ensure that your business is able to recover quickly from a hostile work environment lawsuit.

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