Written by: John Dalton
| Read Time: 4 minutes

When employers fail to protect their employees from unlawful harassment, they hurt their workforce, the community, and themselves. Victims of unlawful workplace harassment have several legal protections and the option to sue their harasser and employer. 

There are many requirements for filing a workplace harassment lawsuit, and an experienced attorney can help you fulfill them. Contact us at the Law Office of John Dalton for help with the requirements to file a workplace harassment lawsuit. We have decades of experience successfully shielding workers from the harms of workplace harassment. 

When Can You Sue for Harassment in the Workplace?

Your employer is not legally responsible for every unpleasant encounter you have at work. But if someone at your workplace mistreats you because of characteristics protected by state or federal law, you could have the right to take legal action against your employer. 

Characteristics Protected by the Law

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, you cannot be harassed at work for the following reasons

  • Age (40 and older),
  • Color,
  • Disability,
  • Genetics, 
  • Marital status,
  • Medical condition,
  • Military status,
  • National origin,
  • Race,
  • Religion,
  • Sex, 
  • Pregnancy, or
  • Veteran status.

Individuals who punish employees or make their work environments difficult because of their protected characteristics could be required to compensate their victims and comply with other legal orders.  

Contact us even if you just have questions about what is going on in your workplace.

How the Law Defines Harassment

In general, there are two types of workplace harassment. A person in your workplace commits illegal harassment if they participate in the following:

  • Quid pro quo harassment, meaning a supervisor requires you to endure unwelcome behavior motivated by a protected characteristic in order to obtain or keep work benefits or 
  • Hostile work environment harassment, meaning someone at work engages in unwelcome conduct that is based on a protected characteristic and is so pervasive or severe that it negatively alters your work environment. 

One instance of quid pro quo harassment can be enough to establish a legal claim against your employer and supervisor. If you are claiming hostile work environment harassment, the harassment must be pervasive or severe.  Pervasiveness means the harassment has occurred more than once or twice.  Severity of the harassment can mean an offensive or unwelcome touching of your body.  Something more than an incidental touching.  Depending on the type of offensive touching that has taken place, even one incident could support a case of sexual harassment.  No matter the number of times you have had to endure harassment at work, please contact us to discuss your concerns and rights.

How to Sue for Workplace Harassment

As soon as you identify unlawful harassment in your workplace, you can tell the harasser to stop or otherwise let the harasser know his/her behavior is unwelcome. If this is not practical, then let any manager or supervisor know about the behavior.  Whomever you tell about your objection to harassing behavior, you can communicate it in writing so that you have a record of it, but it is not mandatory. 

Remember, once you even think you are being harassed at work, contact us!

Gather Evidence

Your employer, government agencies, and the court will need evidence of your harassment claim to properly resolve your case. Once you contact us, we will guide you in the collection of evidence. This may include documenting incidents, saving relevant communications, and identifying potential witnesses who can corroborate your experience.

File an Internal Complaint

If you do not file a written harassment complaint with your employer, your employer might be able to deny liability. To help ensure that your employer takes accountability for its misconduct, please contact us and we will help you through the process. If there is no formal procedure, deliver a written complaint to management or human resources. Keep copies of your complaint, relevant correspondence, and any documents about the resolution of your complaint. Taking these steps will contribute to building a strong foundation for your case and seeking the appropriate resolution.

File a Government Complaint

Filing a complaint with a government agency can be complicated and it is easy to make a mistake.  Contact us before initiating this complaint process and we will guide you through it.  In this process, you can file complaints to have state and federal agencies investigate your harassment case and order your employer to compensate you for your losses. We do not recommend this process. In the vast majority of cases, we recommend you request a right-to-sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)  or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A victim of workplace harassment must receive a right-to-sue notice from one of these agencies before they can sue their harasser or employer.

File a Lawsuit

To preserve your right to file a lawsuit, you must file a DFEH or EEOC complaint on time. In general, you have 180 days to file an EEOC complaint. You have 300 days to file an EEOC complaint if state law also applies to your issue. And you have 45 days to file an EEOC complaint if you are a federal employee. Harassment victims who want to file state complaints with the DFEH must file within three years. 

If you receive an EEOC right-to-sue notice, you have 90 days to file. And if you receive a DFEH right-to-sue notice, you have one year to file your suit.

We Can Help You

Navigating the complexities of employment law in California can be daunting, but our dedicated team is here to provide the guidance and representation you need. We understand the intricacies of the legal landscape and will stand by your side every step of the way. Whether you’re facing issues of harassment, retaliation, or wrongful termination, we are committed to fighting for your rights.

At the Law Office of John Dalton, we work to ensure that California employees have strong voices against bad corporate citizens that employee you. If you have suffered harm from workplace harassment, attorney John Dalton can protect your rights and maximize your recovery. John has secured very large settlements for hundreds of California workers. If you are ready for help, we are ready to help you. Call us or contact us online to request a consultation.

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