California and federal law prohibits employers from engaging in unlawful harassment or discrimination against job applicants and employees based on “protected” characteristics such as:
- Sex or Gender
- Pregnancy, Childbirth or Related Medical Conditions
- Physical or Mental Disability
- National Origin
- Family Care Status
- Legally Protected Medical Condition
- Sexual Orientation
- Genetic Information
- Gender Identity
- Domestic Partner Status
- Marital or Parental Status
- Military or Veterans’ Status
- Political Affiliation
Moreover, employers are mandated by statute to take measures to prevent and promptly remedy unlawful harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Some of the most common areas of harassment and discrimination employers must confront are:
- Sexual Harassment
- Gender Harassment
- Sex or Gender Discrimination (Including Pregnancy)
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Harassment
- Disability Discrimination
- Age Discrimination
- Race Discrimination
- National Origin Discrimination and Harassment
- Religious Discrimination and Harassment
- Racial Harassment
- Association Discrimination
Preventive Best Practices
Employers operating in California must take steps necessary to ensure that their employees do not unlawfully harass or discriminate on the basis of any statutorily protected bases with respect to recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, benefits, transfer and the administration of all terms, conditions and privileges of employment. To this end, California employers should have a comprehensive policy not only which prohibits harassment – including hostile work environment harassment and “quid pro quo” harassment – as well as discrimination and retaliation but also which includes a complaint reporting and resolution procedure. This policy, in turn, should be:
- Included in the company’s employee handbook and distributed to company employees, agents and independent contractors;
- Posted on company bulletin boards and reviewed; and
- Communicated in greater depth to employees through appropriate training workshops.
In addition to training employees at all levels on the details of a company’s policy against harassment, discrimination and retaliation, management and supervisory level employees should be required to undergo more extensive training: 1) to understand the statutory obligations of they and their employers; 2) to recognize conduct which is inappropriate for the workplace; and 3) to understand and timely take the steps required to prevent and remedy situations which may lead to or be the subject of complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
In fact, employers doing business in California that employ 50 or more employees (part-time, full-time and temporary), agents and/or independent contractors are required mandated by California Assembly Bill 1825 to have all supervisors (including those who are newly hired/promoted) regularly undergo mandatory sexual harassment training.
Responding to Complaints of Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation
In addition, if an employer receives a complaint or learns of alleged inappropriate or objectionable conduct in the workplace, the employer should promptly investigate the allegations. If inappropriate or objectionable conduct is found to have occurred, the employer should respond in a manner which is reasonably calculated to end the conduct. For example, depending on the circumstances, the employer may choose to do one or more of the following:
- Give a warning/reprimand;
- Place the individual on suspension or administrative leave;
- Require the individual to review and acknowledge receipt of and compliance with the employer’s policy against harassment, discrimination and retaliation;
- Require the individual to undergo mandatory training and/or counseling;
- Transfer or change the work hours of either the complainant or the accused (depending on the complainant’s preference)
- Terminate the employment of the accused or, in the case of a non-employee, sever the relationship with that particular individual.
Overview of the Legal, Investigation and Training Services We Offer
Miller Legal Group, P.C. assists businesses operating in California with the development and implementation of a comprehensive policy and reporting procedure which prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation and includes a complaint reporting and resolution procedure. We also help California employers implement other preventive measures, including a variety of anti-harassment and discrimination training workshops for both management and non-management personnel.
In addition, when employers they receive complaints or learn of alleged inappropriate or objectionable workplace conduct, we work closely with the employer’s human resources contact or other administrative professional about how to conduct an appropriate workplace investigation, make findings based on the evidence and take appropriate corrective measures in response thereto. In appropriate circumstances, an experienced employment law attorney from Miller Legal Group, P.C. can even serve as an independent fact-finder to investigate claims of alleged workplace misconduct.
In addition to the foregoing, Stefan R. Miller has successfully represented the interests of California employers involving claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, both in a court of law and before government/regularly agencies, including:
- The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
- The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- The United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
For more information about our training programs and workshops or about how Miller Legal Group, P.C. can customize a training workshop for your Company, please click here. For more information about workplace investigations and the nature and scope of the services we provide in this regard, please click here. Or, contact Stefan R. Miller directly for more information by clicking on the Contact Us link or by telephone at (310) 426-2650.
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Contact a Santa Monica Employment and HR Law Attorney
For more information about what we do at Miller Legal Group, P.C., our alternative billing arrangements, or to schedule a Litigation Avoidance consultation with an experienced Los Angeles and Orange County employment defense attorney, please contact us at our South Bay employment law firm by e-mail or by telephone at (310) 426-2650.