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How To Avoid Workplace Harassment In California


Unfortunately, employees in California are just as likely to be harassed in the workplace as those anywhere else in the world. However, in California state, employers who are found to be liable for any type of unlawful workplace harassment can end up facing some substantial penalties.

These financial damages can include everything from back pay and compensation to the victim’s legal costs and attorney fees. This means that, should an employee become a victim of harassment at work, they can seek recompense for all they have suffered – says attorneys at

Harassment Comes In Many Forms

While many people tend to think of sexual harassment as the primary form of harassment in the workplace, the concept of harassment at work also extends to a number of other classes of people who have the protection of the law. Harassment can occur because of race, medical conditions, parental status, age, color, religion, marital status, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation as well as numerous other characteristics that are protected under local, federal and state laws.

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The Role Of The Human Resources Department

The human resources department in any workplace must take an active role in guarding against unlawful harassment of employees in the workplace. Should they see harassment first-hand, or learn about it from a third party, they must be prepared to put a stop to it instantly. Anti-harassment policies must be put in place and communicated effectively to all employees. Management and supervisors must also be properly educated by HR professionals so that they can spot unlawful harassment and put an end to it immediately.

In California, there is an overlap between federal and state law, however, local employers must have a clear understanding of the various areas in which the state law imposes extra obligations. Generally, the regulations which govern the prevention of harassment at work in California have a broader scope than federal law, and this makes the role of the HR professional in preventing, investigating and remedying harassment in the workplace extremely important.

Above all, HR professionals in California must be prepared to take all complaints of harassment from employees seriously and investigate them thoroughly, even if their complaint is not sufficient to warrant a case of illegal harassment being brought against the perpetrator.

The Obligations Of The Employer

Every employer in California must take specific actions against workplace harassment. These include:

  • Taking every reasonable step to prevent harassment and discrimination from taking place. Should harassment occur, effective action must be taken to prevent further harassment as well as to correct its effects.
  • Implementing and developing a policy to prevent unlawful harassment and ensuring an effective procedure is in place for making and investigating complaints.
  • Fully informing every member of staff of their own obligations and rights.

Taking swift and effective action to remedy matters should an allegation of harassment be proven.

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Effective Training

The FEHA requires every employer who has 50 or more workers to provide at least two mandatory hours of training about sexual harassment to supervisors within a 6-month period of their date of transfer or hire and then at 2-yearly intervals. Businesses that have 5 or more workers must also provide the same training at 2-yearly intervals.

Although there is no mandatory provision in place to require specific harassment training for employees, it is highly recommended that all workers and managers alike should completely review all applicable anti-harassment laws as well as California law requirements and the policies of their organization so that they are aware of the consequences associated with violations as well as the procedures to be followed in the event of a complaint and investigation.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you believe that you have been a victim of unlawful harassment in the workplace, you should immediately seek legal advice.