Many companies have workplace policies that prohibit harassment, but filing a complaint with human resources isn’t the only remedy available to wronged employees. When certain criteria are met, workplace harassment is also a violation of federal and state laws. If you feel you’ve been targeted, consider seeking employment law advice from an experienced labor attorney in the San Jose, CA area. Be sure to thoroughly document each incident, and bring this written record to your initial consultation with your employment law attorney.
Under the law, workplace harassment is defined as unlawful and unwelcome acts that are discriminatory in nature. Harassment may stem from discrimination based on race, age, sex, religion, color, disability, national origin, or genetic information. Unlawful harassment falls into one of two categories. First, workers are forced to endure the acts in order to maintain their employment. Or the conduct is widespread or severe enough in the workplace to constitute an intimidating, abusive, or hostile work environment.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
Labor attorneys can file a workplace harassment complaint under Title VII of this federal law. Title VII provides the foundation for anti-discrimination complaints. It prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory actions against employees based on their sex, religion, race, national origin, or color. This federal law applies to employment agencies, labor organizations, and federal, state, and local government organizations. It also applies to private and public universities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This monumental piece of legislation was passed in 1990. It gave employees with disabilities broad legal protections against discrimination in the workplace, in addition to protections regarding public accommodations, telecommunications, and public services. Under the ADA, individuals with disabilities are protected from suffering discriminatory harassment in applying for a job, hiring, firing, promoting, job training, and compensatory procedures.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
FEHA is a California law that applies to employers with at least five employees. Under FEHA, employers are required to take reasonable steps to both prevent and correct harassment and discriminatory practices. FEHA takes a proactive approach toward workplace harassment, as it requires employers to have written policies to prevent discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. Current and future employees must be provided with a copy of this policy, but they still have the legal right to consult an employment lawyer if they feel they’ve been the subject of harassment.