5 Common Misconceptions about California Workplace Harassment

Nov 1, 2023 | Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is an unfortunate reality that affects employees across industries, undermining their well-being, productivity, and career growth. Matt Ruggles has litigated scores of harassment lawsuits from both sides – for decades as a defense attorney representing corporations at one of the largest law firms on Earth; and since 2017 representing illegally harassed employees against corporate employers. Learn about the 5 most common misconceptions about workplace harassment and get help today.

Misconception #1 Workplace Harassment Only Involves Sexual Advances:

One prevalent misconception is that workplace harassment is limited to sexual advances or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature. In reality, workplace harassment encompasses a broader range of behaviors, including but not limited to offensive remarks, derogatory comments, bullying, discrimination based on protected characteristics, and hostile work environments. It is essential to understand that harassment can occur in various forms and is not solely confined to sexual misconduct.

Misconception #2 Harassment Must Be Direct and Explicit to Be Actionable:

Another misconception is that harassment must be explicit, overt, and direct in order to be legally actionable. In truth, harassment can be subtle, indirect, or even non-verbal. It can manifest through gestures, expressions, exclusion, microaggressions, or any behavior that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It is important to recognize that even seemingly small incidents, when they are part of a pattern or create a hostile work environment, can still be considered harassment.

Misconception #3 Harassment Must Be Intentional to Be Illegal:

Some individuals mistakenly believe that for harassment to be illegal, it must be intentional on the part of the alleged harasser. However, in California, intent is not always a requirement for proving workplace harassment. The focus is on the impact of the behavior and whether it creates an objectively hostile work environment or interferes with an individual’s employment opportunities. Thus, unintentional actions or comments can still be considered harassment if they meet the legal standards.

Misconception #4 Reporting Harassment Will Lead to Retaliation:

Fear of retaliation is a significant concern that prevents many individuals from reporting workplace harassment. However, California law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who make good faith complaints about harassment. Retaliation can take various forms, including adverse employment actions, negative performance evaluations, or even termination. An experienced employment attorney can help protect your rights and guide you through the process, ensuring that you are not subjected to retaliation for asserting your rights.

Misconception #5 Filing a Harassment Claim Will Harm My Career:

Some individuals worry that pursuing a workplace harassment claim will harm their professional reputation or career prospects. It is important to remember that taking legal action against workplace harassment is a fundamental right protected by law. An experienced employment attorney can help navigate the legal process, advocating for your rights and striving to obtain a fair resolution. In fact, holding employers accountable for allowing harassment to occur can contribute to creating a safer and more inclusive work environment for all employees.

Contact The Ruggles Law Firm Today

Matt Ruggles has a thorough understanding of California workplace harassment law and decades of practical experience litigating harassment claims in California and federal court.  Using all of his knowledge and experience, Matt and his team can quickly evaluate your potential claim and give you realistic advice on what you can expect if you sue your former employer.

The fight against workplace harassment is an ongoing battle that requires vigilance, knowledge, and the unwavering commitment of both employees and employers. California, with its robust legal framework, stands at the forefront of protecting workers’ rights and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

As an employment lawyer, Matt Ruggles is dedicated to advocating for justice and equality in the realm of employment. Everyone deserves to work in an environment that values their unique contributions and provides equal opportunities for growth and success.

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