Practice Area

Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Bluestone Law Represents Victims of Harassment in the Workplace

Although harassers and others may see some harassment at work as harmless, it can cause overwhelming damage to victims. Studies link harassment—particularly sexual harassment—to post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, anxiety, insomnia as well as many more harmful reactions. This harassing behavior can even cause a hostile workplace that demoralizes victims and discourages them from asserting themselves. Bluestone Law wants to help workers who find themselves dealing with this stressful situation.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment most commonly involves male perpetrators and female victims, but under the law the sex of the parties involved does not matter. Additionally, it can come not only from a boss or supervisor, but from co-workers, subordinates, or even customers. Sex discrimination can occur in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, wages, and benefits.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, there are two types of sexual harassment:

  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment: When an employer makes sexual acts or favors a condition of employment, pay increases, promotions, or other benefits, courts refer to this as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Whether or not the employee accepts or rejects these demands, if the demands are unwanted then they are illegal. Any retaliation that occurs as a consequence of the employee rejecting these advances is also illegal.
  • Hostile Workplace: Separately, some forms of sexual harassment become illegal because they create a hostile work environment. This occurs when behavior and conduct of a sexual nature is so severe and pervasive that an employee is prevented from performing their job. Hostile work environment cases are not limited to direct victims of this harassment in the workplace. They may also involve third-party witnesses to the harassment, for whom the harassment is so severe that it prevents them from effectively doing their job even though they are not directly involved.

Other Forms of Harassment in the Workplace

Offensive jokes, slurs, threats, intimidation, insults, and other offensive behavior based on an illegal factor, are prohibited by California and federal harassment laws. “Illegal factors” include:

  • Age
  • Mental and Physical Disability
  • Gender and Gender Expression
  • Sexual Orientation
  • National Origin and Ancestry
  • Pregnancy
  • Race and Color
  • Religion
  • Medical Condition and Genetic Information
  • Marital Status