Previous posts in this blog address the possibility of an employer’s retaliation against an employee for accusing someone in the workplace of sexual harassment. Whether a person is unfairly demoted, terminated or otherwise disciplined for reporting sexual harassment, retaliation is just as unlawful as the harassment itself. A new law serves to protect California employees from one type of retaliation – defamation litigation – after accusing someone of sexual harassment.
Employees in California and all other states likely already know that state and federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees and prospective employees based on race, religion, age, color, sexual orientation, disability and/or national origin. Employees and prospective employees can sue the employer if they believe they have been the target of such discrimination.
Are you getting routine rest and meal breaks at work? Although federal law does not require employers to give work breaks, employers in California are required to give work breaks and rest periods to certain employees in accordance with the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders. Under this order, employers must offer a paid 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked. This does not, however, pertain to employees who only work three and a half hours. As a worker in the state of California, you are entitled to certain benefits, even if you are not a full-time employee.
One reason many women hesitate to move forward with sexual harassment claims is the fear of retaliation. While the law prohibits employers from penalizing employees for asserting their legal rights, including the right to be free of sexual harassment, many employers try to circumvent this prohibition.
If you are employed in California, the company you work for has a responsibility to provide fair treatment to you and all employees. Companies cannot discriminate against people on basis of religion, gender, race, sexual orientation or age, as well as people who are disabled or pregnant. When people are not treated fairly or are terminated on questionable grounds, they may be able to file a lawsuit against their employer.
No matter where you work in California, days probably exist – maybe many of them – when you wish you did not have to be there. Maybe the problem is a nasty boss. Maybe a cranky coworker. Maybe the lunchroom that seems to breed nothing but lewd jokes and strange little green or black spots in the microwave.