California law protects employee rights by prohibiting employers from taking adverse actions against employees based on a protected characteristic, including race, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, age (over 40), pregnancy, childbirth, childbirth-related medical condition, and religion.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can take a variety of forms, including:
- Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
- Threatening reprisals after an employee refuses sexual advances (retaliation)
- Visual conduct, including display of sexual pictures, cartoons, jokes, or making sexual gestures
- Unwelcome verbal propositions
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature or based on sex
- Physical conduct, including proximity, touching, or confinement
Not all prohibited harassment is “sexual” harassment. Harassment is prohibited when the unwelcome conduct is based on a protected characteristic, such as age, race, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or sexual orientation.
Employees: we protect and fight for your rights.
Retaliation is prohibited under both California and Federal statutes and case law. To make a case under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), an employee must show protected activity, adverse action resulting from the activity, and causal link between the activity and the action.
Protected activity may include protesting, complaining about, resisting or otherwise “opposing” discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, sex, disability, age, national origin, or religion. Retaliation is prohibited whether the employee is opposing harassment or discrimination directed against them or against another employee. Under the California FEHA, it is unlawful for a California employer to demote, suspend, terminate, or harass any employee because that employee has engaged in protected activity.
The California Supreme Court has held that an “adverse employment action” is an action or series of actions—viewed in their totality—that materially affects the terms and conditions of employment.
A causal link between the activity and the action can be inferred from direct or circumstantial evidence. For example: an employee complains to an owner that the owner is shortchanging customers, the owner berates the employee for questioning the owner’s business practices, and the owner terminates the employee at end of the workday.
Similar to retaliation are “whistleblower” claims for reporting violations of state or Federal law to government agencies or for refusing to violate state or Federal law.
Persons reporting waste, mismanagement, violation of law, or abuse of funds disbursed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are also afforded protection under certain circumstances.
Consult with our knowledgeable attorneys at Heilman Law Offices for no cost by calling us at 619.365.5765.
David has represented clients in mediation, arbitration, trial, and in administrative hearings on a broad range of employment-related issues in both California and Federal courts. David graduated from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco where he served as Articles Editor for the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review.
Charlene has extensive experience in all aspects of litigation. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in California state courts and state agencies. Since joining the firm in 2004, Charlene has focused her practice on employment law litigation and counseling. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of California Hastings College of the Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University.
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