Protecting your rights in the workplace.

How To File a Workplace Harassment Case in Los Angeles

Workplace harassment is a serious issue that affects many employees, undermining their well-being, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. If you are experiencing harassment at work in Los Angeles, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the steps you need to take to file a harassment case.

Understanding Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment involves unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy discrimination), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful when:

  • Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
  • The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

Sexual harassment, a common form of workplace harassment, includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Documenting the Harassment

Before filing a case, it’s essential to document the harassment thoroughly. This documentation can serve as crucial evidence to support your claims—for example:

  • Keep a Journal: Record each incident of harassment, noting the date, time, location, individuals involved, and details of what happened.
  • Save Communications: Preserve emails, text messages, voicemails, and any other communication pertaining to the harassment.
  • Witnesses: If there were witnesses, note their names and their accounts of the incidents.
  • Work Performance Records: Maintain records of your job performance, especially if the harassment has impacted your work.

Report the Harassment to Your Employer

Most employers have internal procedures for handling harassment complaints. Follow your company’s harassment policy, which typically involves:

  • Reporting to HR: File a formal complaint with your Human Resources (HR) department. Provide them with your documentation and any evidence you have collected.
  • Supervisor Notification: If your supervisor is not the harasser, notify them about what you have experienced. They are often required to report such issues to HR.
  • Follow-Up: Keep track of your complaint and follow up to ensure that it is being addressed. Document all communications and responses from HR or management.

Pursuing a Harassment Case

If your internal complaint does not resolve the issue, you must file a formal complaint with California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before you can sue. This can be done online, by phone, mail, or in person. Complaints must be filed with the CRD within one year of the last incident of harassment, whereas the EEOC allows up to 300 days from the last incident.

Investigation and Mediation

Once you file a complaint, the CRD or EEOC will investigate your claim. This process may involve:

  • Mediation: The agency may offer mediation as a first step to resolve the issue without formal investigation. Both parties must agree to mediation.
  • Formal Investigation: If mediation is unsuccessful or declined, the agency will conduct a formal investigation. This includes reviewing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and examining documentation.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the CRD or EEOC finds evidence of harassment, they may issue a “right to sue” notice, allowing you to file a lawsuit in court. Steps to file a lawsuit include:

  • Hiring a Los Angeles Harassment Lawyer: Seek legal advice from a lawyer specializing in employment law. They can guide you through the complaint and legal process, protecting your rights and representing you in court if necessary.
  • Preparing Your Case: Work with your lawyer to gather additional evidence, draft legal documents, and develop a legal strategy.
  • Filing the Complaint: Your lawyer will file a complaint in the appropriate court, initiating the lawsuit process.
  • Trial and Resolution: The case may go to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome. Alternatively, you might be able to reach a settlement before trial.

You have the right to a safe and respectful workplace, and taking action against harassment is a vital step in upholding that right.