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What Constitutes a “Hostile Work Environment” in Los Angeles?

Everyone should have the right to a peaceful, supportive workplace. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In the hectic hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, thousands of employees suffer through unpleasant work environments. You may have an abusive boss or suffer the sexual harassment of a co-worker. But how do you know if your employer is actually breaking the law?

The basics of hostile work environment

In simple terms, a hostile work environment claim must meet a couple of requirements:

  • The harassment you experience must be “severe” or “pervasive”
  • The harassment must be based on a protective characteristic

To be severe or pervasive, the harassment must be either ongoing or you must have experienced a one-time episode of harassment that was particularly egregious. So, often a one-off incident or petty annoyance will not be enough to be considered a hostile work environment. Yet, if the one-time incident was especially traumatic, such as a sexual assault, you may have legal recourse.

The second aspect of a hostile work environment claim, “protected characteristic,” means the harassment you face has to have occurred because of your membership in a “protected class.”

In California, the protected classes are:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age, if the employee is over 40-years old
  • Gender
  • Physical disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Mental disability
  • Gender identity/ gender expression
  • Marital status
  • Medical condition
  • Military or veteran status
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Genetic information

Basically, harassment and the creation of a hostile work environment is a form of discrimination. Both federal law and California law protect employees from harassment.

Examples of a hostile work environment

Here are some general examples of what actions might be considered hostile:

  • Being repeatedly called a racially offensive term by a co-worker
  • Being denied promotions or raises because you are a woman
  • Being physically harassed or abused
  • Being mocked because you are disabled
  • Being threatened because you practice a certain religion

If you suspect you are the victim of harassment, contact your boss or Human Resources representative right away. Get your complaint in writing. To have a successful claim later on, you will need to show that your employer knew of the harassment or should have known. If the illegal behavior does not stop, speak with an employment attorney for assistance.

The hard-hitting Los Angeles hostile work environment attorneys at Taylor & Ring are your legal advocates. Do not let your unscrupulous employer get away with unethical and illegal behavior. Let us help you today by calling 310-776-6390 or complete a contact form.


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