Harassment and Discrimination lawsuits in California are rising at an alarming rate. It’s important to understand that California expanded its Workplace Harassment Protection Law under Senate Bill 300 which established a series of prohibitions on employer conduct, making discrimination and harassment unlawful in a variety of situations.
What should you do when one of your employees raises a complaint involving discrimination or harassment in the workplace? According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is unlawful to retaliate against job applicants or employees for:
- Filing or being a witness in an equal employment opportunity (EEO) charge, complaint, investigation or lawsuit.
- Discussing employment discrimination with a supervisor or manager.
- Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment.
- Refusing to follow directions from a supervisor that would result in discrimination.
- Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others.
- Requesting a disability or religious accommodation.
- Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Retaliatory acts include giving an employee a lower performance evaluation than merited, transferring an employee to a less desirable position because of a complaint or changing an employee’s work schedule to times that conflict with family obligations.
As an employer your Employee Handbook must have the proper company policies on Anti-Harassment, Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Retaliation that meet both state and federal guidelines. You must ensure that your employees are not retaliated against for raising these types of claims. Otherwise, your company will face legal liability. Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation cases are very difficult for the employer to win in a jury trial and juries most often side on the behalf of the employee. If your company needs help with putting together these policies, or an entire Employee Handbook, please let me know. I’d be delighted to work with you.