Easy Steps to Prevent Workplace Harassment: California Edition

Easy Steps to Prevent Workplace Harassment: California Edition

Whether you are a small business owner, franchisee, or staffing agency, this guide will give you everything you need to deal with discrimination prevention and harassment in the workplace. As the person responsible for educating everyone in the company, you need to make sure your workforce has the right tools. If you don't have the proper education, lawsuits could put your company out of business.

In this guide, you will discover the right measures to take when dealing with workplace harassment claims, harassing conduct, discrimination, and other unlawful conduct. California is leading the abuse prevention movement by always updating its State laws to protect the people. Because of their high standards, other states are quick to follow. So, let's dive right in on what you need to know.

If you need help meeting the State's deadline for compliance, try our sexual harassment training. We can get your workplace educated, tracked, and compliant with the legal requirements in California very quickly.

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How to Determine Workplace Harassment by California State Law

In Federal and State law, behavior has to be severe or pervasive enough to lead to a hostile work environment. The abusive work atmosphere has to affect one or more employees.

After the #MeToo movement many companies and lawmakers had to reflect on what they can do to avoid such events from happening again.

Actions needed to be put in place to stop workplace harassment. Harassing behavior goes beyond sexual advances as we'll show you in this article. California saw a rise in complaints in recent years, so they adjusted some laws under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to prevent further contamination.

Ultimate Guide To State And Local Harassment Prevention Training Requirements

Download the guide outlining all the state and local laws around sexual harassment prevention training requirements.

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Types Of Workplace Harassment

Defining different categories of harassment in California is important. By understanding the difference between unlawful workplace harassment and good behavior, you can approach the situation in the right manner.

Here are some examples of harassing behavior that falls under workplace harassment in California:

Non-Sexual/Discrimination:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Status of immigration
  • Mental disability
  • Gender Identity
  • Marital Status
  • Veteran status

Sexual Harassment

  • Severe or pervasive touching without consent or sexual advances
  • Comments that suggest sexual favors
  • Rude gestures
  • Leering or staring in a menacing way
  • Showing or sending images, objects, cartoons, as well as posters that are sexual
  • Comments that are degrading, suggested, obscene, or graphic

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is another form of this behavior. It pressures the victim to accept the sexual advances from management in exchange for promotions, job stability, or gains in the company.

Anything that creates some sort of discomfort for a person or feeling unsafe at work could fall under harassment. In the next section, we'll talk about what the victim can do if put in this working environment.

How To Handle Sexual Harassment Properly

When unlawful workplace harassment happens, corrective action needs to be put in place quickly to avoid fines and lawsuits. Even though a hostile workplace can make it hard to come forward, actions need to happen before it becomes too late.

The Federal law mandated time limit for reporting a sexual harassment case is 180 days. State laws can vary, but California has gone a step further by giving victims 3 years to file a claim.

U. S Law requires these steps when placing a complaint:

  1. Tell anyone in the company whether it be; a supervisor, manager, or human resources. Stepping forward about the abuse cannot guarantee that the behavior will stop immediately. But it can be an official time stamp which is needed to file for a lawsuit.
  2. File an official complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). To follow forward with the lawsuit for workplace harassment, California requires this step.
  3. "Right to Sue" notice. The DFEH will issue this paperwork after the official complaint is on the record. The notice can take an undetermined time. They issue right away some immediately or after an investigation by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Then the victim will then be able to begin a harassment lawsuit against the harasser or employer.

The victim of sexual harassment may speak to a law firm for legal advice at any step of the process.

Steps Employers Need to Take to Prevent Harassment in California

Proper education in your company is your greatest ally when preventing workplace harassment. California requires businesses with 5 or more employees to go through required courses.

Every two years everyone in a company/business has to undergo sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training. Supervisors need 2 hours and regular employees must complete 1 hour.

The U.S. Government offers free California sexual harassment training according to the State's laws on workplace harassment. California along with other states now make it required to take training during the new hire process. The training they provide isn't trackable, making it difficult to see if an employee will be compliant by the mandated due date. With all the legal talk and cut-and-dry information, it's hard to follow for an employee who doesn't have a proper education.

Easyllama offers trackable and simple training that your employees will actually enjoy, Without paying an arm or a leg. Easyllama offers on-the-go classes for busy professionals who need the ability to pause the course in case work gets busy. You send an employee a specialized "magic link" to the program assigned, accessible from their phone, tablet, or computer.

With personalized videos and relatable examples of scenarios, the staff will have fun and understand the lessons without feeling bored. Another convenient bonus is EasyLlama automatically notifies staff members before they miss their deadline to ensure they never become non-compliant.

These are a few examples of training the company can take as a prevention route.

If no proper training is available to the employee, this could lead to a hostile work environment. The harassment may lead to hostility between co-workers. In the next section, we will discuss how to use proper corrective action to heal the workspace.

Steps to Fix a Hostile Work Environment.

Again, a hostile work environment is one where harassing behaviors affect their work performance.

Here are steps to improve your company's hostile work environment:

  1. Follow up on every complaint filed. Giving the victim a safe space where they can speak and feel heard is important. This will help them feel more comfortable.
  2. Gather all the information that relates to the accusation. The results can be important if the matter leads to legal matters.
  3. Respect the people/person who comes forward about the problems they bring forward. It's important not to dismiss them even if the accuracy seems unreliable.
  4. Provide the employee with tips on how to de-escalate a hostile situation. Inform them that if it turns violent to let a manager know immediately. An investigation can take some time, suggesting proper ways to deal with the harasser in the meantime will be helpful.
  5. Have a meeting with all the staff with the agenda to remind everyone of the strict policies the company has about sexual harassment and hostility. Warn them, it can lead to job termination.
  6. Research every complaint. Set up security cameras, walk the floors, and monitor all interactions.
  7. Discipline all those who show hostility. When you see the behavior, take all the matters you need to take. May that be;
  8. A written warning
  9. Unpaid suspensions
  10. Termination

Explain the serious actions that can happen if the behavior continues. Immediately terminate employees who are likely to lead to future lawsuits.

If the harasser is an important asset to the company, such as a CEO or executor, the situation needs to be dealt with carefully. Talk to them about the future of the company and what's best for the brand. Provide a list of things that need to happen along with a game plan. More likely, the answer to deal with the behavior will be to require the harasser to forcefully step down, regardless of the financial risk.

Conducting a Fair Employment and Housing

Investigation

Gathering as much information as possible is important when dealing with a complaint. The DFEH created a process that ensures the proper research gets done when investigating workplace harassment claims.

To get the most relevant information, this is what the interviewer must do:

  1. The first step is to have an in-person meeting with the complaining party.
  2. The person who is being accused should be able to speak about their side of the story. They should not inform them about the allegations beforehand. Information regarding the accusations should be released in the middle of the interview. It is unnecessary to reveal the accuser's identity or to show their written complaint.
  3. Talk to the people who affect the case. Even with many people involved, it's important to limit the number of people who you tell about the situation. This will help respect the privacy of the victim. Reviewing relevant documents is part of this step.
  4. Gather all other forms of evidence. May this be checking security cameras, taking pictures, or visiting the place where such allegations took place.

Regardless of what happens, you need the full story to make a fair and informed decision to protect the company.

Federal Laws That Protect the Employee From Harassment In the Workplace

Under the Federal Law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, placed in 1964 protects any employee from harassment or discrimination. This ranges from national origin/ancestry, identity/gender expression, race, religion, or sexual preference. This applies to anything that involves the employee, such as; during recruitment, terminations, training, promotions, etc.

This means if a shift leader is wearing a religious creed, the federal and state law will protect that worker if they see any retaliation from any co-workers.

Another organization that helps protect individuals against harassment by avoiding equal treatment regardless of people's physical state is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) started in 1990 to create equal opportunities for people with medical conditions. This includes school, transportation, work, or anything in the public eye. Similar to the Civil Rights Act, people with disabilities just want to be treated the same as everyone else. The genetic information of an individual should not play a factor during the hiring process or promotions.

There are now many resources that protect the employee from any sort of physical abuse, harassment, or discrimination. Even though it's still a battle, we are still dealing with, know that justice will prevail.

Avoid Lawsuits Get Compliant with Easyllama

In a world of ever-changing sexual harassment laws and regulations, keeping up with everything can be difficult to stay up to date.

As an HR leader or business owner, you are very busy. Here at our compliance company, we automatically update our anti-harassment training when a new law goes into effect. Our training system is engaging and fun so your employees actually learn how to prevent harassment.

State training is boring and hard to follow, especially when they have examples that didn't age well. Easyllama provides bite-sized and easy-to-follow courses. It's a risk-free, simple way to make sure all your employees have compliance with the EEOC for sexual harassment. EasyLlama automates this step for you, so you can rest easy knowing you are HR compliant.

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