Employers in California are required to “take reasonable steps,” to prevent and correct wrongful behavior in the workplace. When an employee reports harassment, the employer should take action to make sure that harassment does not continue and the employee reporting the harassment is not subject to further harassment or retaliation.
One of the most obvious types of harassment is known as Quid pro quo harassment, which means “this for that.” This type of harassment may include a supervisor who tells an employee that they will get a raise if they provide sexual favors. Similarly, it would include a supervisor who tells an employee they may be in the next round of layoffs if they don’t be sexually cooperative.
The other main type of workplace harassment involves a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment involves conduct that renders the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive. This could include telling racist jokes, using demeaning terms, using indecent gestures, sabotaging the victim’s job, or engaging in physical conduct.
For example, Henry and David work together in a logistics company in Los Angeles. David was born in Mexico but Henry does not know David is Mexican. Henry tells a lot of racist jokes at work, including jokes about Mexicans. Henry tells David, “We white guys gotta stick together.” David complains to the supervisor who talks to Henry about not making any more racist jokes or comments. Henry tells David that some other employee must have ratted him out but continues to make racist jokes. Depending on the circumstances, David may have a claim for a hostile work environment against the employer.
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