Many workers in California and around the country put up with harassment because they do not know what rights they have or they fear that speaking up could lead to disciplinary action or even termination. Congress took action to protect workers from harassment in 1964 by passing the Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the landmark law protects workers against harassment or discrimination based on their race, religion, gender, skin color or national origin. The federal government expanded workplace protections in 1967 and 1990 by passing the Age Discrimination in Employment and Americans with Disabilities Acts. Federal legislation dealing with workplace harassment is enforced and administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

California workplace harassment laws

Lawmakers in California took action to protect workers before the federal government did. The Fair Employment and Housing Act was signed into law in California in 1959, and it has since been updated to prohibit types of discrimination and harassment that federal law has yet to address. The FEHA now covers discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and medical conditions. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing administers and enforces the law.

California workplace harassment laws

Unpleasant or obnoxious behavior in the workplace does not always rise to the level of harassment. When the EEOC looks into harassment claims, its investigators rarely determine that isolated incidents or petty annoyances violated the law. Harassment becomes illegal when it creates a work environment that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive or intimidating.

Taking legal action to stop harassment

Attorneys with experience in workplace discrimination and sexual harassment cases may explain the protections provided by state and federal law to workers who are thinking about filing a claim. Attorneys may then examine the facts of the case to determine whether these laws were broken. When workers would rather keep these matters private than go to court, attorneys may be able to resolve harassment and discrimination cases during settlement talks.