TAKE HEED Responding to Harassment and Discrimination Complaints Correctly « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Responding to Harassment and Discrimination Complaints Correctly

Harassment, Seriously

Employees and former employees routinely file internal grievances and/or lawsuits alleging that their employer did not take their claims of harassment or discrimination seriously.  While this does not automatically mean the bad behavior occurred, only a foolish employer shrugs off such issues at the outset. Doing so, and especially disciplining the complainant for making the complaint, usually leads to an additional claim – for retaliation.

As a reminder, protected classifications in California include: race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, age (40 and over), mental and physical disabilities, sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, and military or veteran status. Harassing or discriminating against an employee because the person falls under one or more of those classifications is strictly illegal.

If any worker tells an employer that others, including co-workers, supervisors, executives, independent contractors, or customers, engaged in discrimination or harassment against that employee or another in violation of a protected class, the wise employer will conduct a thorough investigation, with written reports and findings and appropriate discipline and/or performance improvement plan for documented offenders.

The California Civil Rights Department (formerly the Division of Fair Employment and Housing) has a Harassment Prevention Guide that can help employers implement an effective anti-harassment program and conduct a proper investigation.

Take Aways:

Employers should always take harassment and discrimination investigations seriously and should conduct their investigations “by the book.”  Having guidance from experienced employment counsel can help avoid pitfalls and result in a properly completed investigation.

For further information, please contact Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Helena Kobrin
July 28, 2023

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