Understanding Hostile Work Environments in California

You Have Rights As A Worker. I Will Help Protect Them.
Denis ZilberbergMarch 15, 2022Employment Law

California law requires that employees be able to work in safe environments that don’t pose unreasonable risks to not only their physical safety, but their mental and emotional wellbeing too. Someone working in an environment where they are made to feel excessively stressed or uncomfortable may be operating in what’s known as a hostile work environment. They can take legal action against their employer in these circumstances.

The term “hostile work environment” is somewhat vague. You might not entirely understand what such an environment is and whether you’re currently working in one. This overview should answer your basic questions. For more information about your case in particular, speak with a California employment law attorney.

What is a ‘Hostile Work Environment’ in California?

The behaviors that can create a hostile work environment are varied. They include bullying, unwanted sexual advances, discrimination, and more. In general, a person may be the victim of a hostile work environment if they have been subjected to mistreatment that significantly causes distress or otherwise interferes with their ability to function effectively and comfortably at work.

Don’t assume you will need to prove that the existence of a hostile work environment undeniably impacted your ability to perform your duties at work in order to recover compensation if you take legal action against an employer. True, it’s always helpful if you can present solid evidence indicating your performance and comfort suffered as a result of harassment. Your California employment law attorney can help you gather such evidence.

Nevertheless, under California law, “the plaintiff need not prove that his or her tangible productivity has declined as a result of the harassment. It suffices to prove that a reasonable person subjected to the discriminatory conduct would find, as the plaintiff did, that the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.”

The same law also specifies that you don’t necessarily have to have been the victim of ongoing harassment in order to be justified in seeking compensation. According to the law, “A single incident of harassing conduct is sufficient to create a triable issue regarding the existence of a hostile work environment if the harassing conduct has unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s work performance or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”

This highlights an important point: While you may feel you have been mistreated at work, if said mistreatment hasn’t been an extremely persistent problem, you might not take legal action because you don’t realize you’ve been working in what may genuinely qualify as a hostile work environment. This can prevent you from seeking compensation for which you may be eligible.

If you even slightly suspect you’ve been the victim of a hostile work environment, you owe it not only to yourself but to your coworkers to at least review your case with the experts at a California employment law law firm. At The Kaufman Law Firm, we will evaluate the details of your case to help you better determine whether you have grounds to take legal action. If you decide to hire our firm, we will also provide you with aggressive representation. Call us today at 818-990-1999 or contact us online for more information.


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