March 3rd, 2011

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Harassment and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing

One of the perennial problems in employment in the US is harassment. This misconduct is defined as a form of discriminating conduct that is offensive and unwelcomed, and is serious enough to have an adverse effect on the employee, both in terms of his work performance and his conditions in employment. Harassment often happens to employees of a protected class, and is imputed to the employer.

Protected class can be determined by the employees’ characteristics, such as:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • Medical condition
  • National origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Veteran and military status

An example of harassment can happen when someone constantly tells racist or sexist jokes towards a particular group of workers. Employees have the right to complain about such harassment, but some employers tend to turn a blind eye and even retaliate against them, which is another unlawful conduct and may require harassed employees to get the help of a Los Angeles Harassment Attorney.

In California, to battle against harassment, the government created the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The agency protects California-based employees from discrimination and harassment. Under their regulations, denial of family and medical care leave and denial of pregnancy disability leave or reasonable accommodation are also under the protected class.

Other regulations mandated by the agency include but are not limited to the following:

  • Prohibits employers from restricting their employees from using any language in the workplace, unless there is a justifiable business reason behind and that the employees are properly notified about it, including the possible consequences for violation.
  • Require employers to provide information to all employees, including supervisors, about the nature, illegality, and remedies in a sexual harassment complaint, notably through training. The publications for all employers should meet the standards set by the CA Government Code Section 12950.
  • Oblige employers to accommodate their employees’ and applicants’ religious beliefs and practices.
  • Have them provide reasonable accommodation to employees and applicants with a disability.
  • Allow applicants and employees to file complaints with the agency against employer, employment agency, or labor union who failed to grant equal employment required by the law.

Employees who may have been discriminated or harassed by a supervisor or anyone in the workplace – even by non-employees – should get the help of a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer if they are planning to file a lawsuit for what happened.