What People Don't Know About Discrimination and Harassment at Work - by West Covina Attorney, Lem Garcia
Going to work every day is hard enough. Don’t let your employer make it even harder on you by tolerating discrimination and harassment. Federal law and California law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), age, sexual orientation, gender identity, medical condition, disability, pregnancy, and marital status.
If you’ve been discriminated against, or harassed for any of the above reasons, it’s important that you know rights and what you need to do.
- Tell them to stop. If you’re being harassed, it’s important to be able to show that the treatment you were receiving was unwanted. For example, if you’re being sexually harassed, it needs to be unequivocally clear that the actions are inappropriate and unwanted. If you feel uncomfortable confronting the person directly, write a letter to the person or have someone else tell him/her.
- Take copious notes. Write down every action of discrimination or harassment that you can think of. No detail is too small. Save any memos, letters, e-mails, notes, and records that you think are relevant to the discrimination or harassment. Make sure not to violate any company confidentiality and privacy rules.
- Do not quit – yet. After an uncomfortable and nerve-wracking situation, it is common for employees to quit because they are too traumatized or embarrassed to continue working. Just keep in mind that if you do quit, you may lose your opportunity to sue. Oftentimes, you must give your employer notice of the harassment and an opportunity to correct it.
- Report what happened ASAP. By reporting the discrimination and harassment as soon as possible, your employer is on notice sooner and can be held liable for more. If you delay, your employer can argue that much of the harassment could have been avoided if you made a report sooner. Make sure to follow your employee handbook (if there is one) on how to proceed, but make sure to put it in writing and keep a copy for your records.
- A single incident of sexual harassment might not be enough. The courts have held that sexual harassment has to be so severe or pervasive that it creates or alters the terms and conditions of employment. However, single instances of inappropriate touching (groping/rubbing) have amounted to sexual harassment.
- Follow up after you’ve made a report. Make sure that your employer takes the appropriate actions after you’ve made a complaint. Your employer must take actions that are reasonably calculated to end the harassment. If the employer’s actions do not end the harassment, they must take further actions to make sure that it does.
- Your harasser doesn’t have to be fired. After you’ve reported harassment or discrimination, your employer is not required to fire the person who offended unless it is an extreme situation. Typically, employers are only required to warn and/or train the harasser. Don’t quit because your harasser wasn’t fired.
- Your employer must conduct a proper investigation. Make sure your employer interviews the harasser and any possible witnesses.
- Get therapy. As a victim of discrimination and/or harassment, it is not uncommon if you suffer from depression, anxiety, headaches, stress, loneliness, and anger. See a professional to help you get through these feelings of emotional distress.
- Continue reporting it. If the discrimination and harassment continues, make sure to continue taking notes and reporting it and/or get an attorney involved.
- Fear of retaliation. Many victims of discrimination and harassment fear making a complaint because they are worried that their employer will retaliate against them. Understand that the law provides protection against retaliation. If your employer retaliates against you for making a complaint, they can be held liable for their retaliation.
- Quit. After you’ve done everything you can, and it has just become too much to bear, it might be time to quit. Don’t risk your health, wealth, and sanity because of a job. Find a new job where they treat you right.
- Get an attorney involved. A good attorney can help you protect your rights and get you what you deserve. You have the right not be discriminated/harassed and if you are, you should be compensated for it.
West Covina Employment Law Attorney, Lem Garcia, Can Help
If you’ve been discriminated against or harassed at work, you may have a claim against your employer. You need to call an attorney as soon as possible. Lem Garcia Law can help you with any questions you may have and can help you get what you deserve. Your employee rights are important and it’s even more important that you fight for them. Call Lem Garcia today: (626) 337-1111.