Harassment and Discrimination Defense Attorney in California:
Providing the Services Employers Need
California laws provide aggressive protection for workers against harassment and discrimination in the workplace. For employers, that translates to a heightened potential for administrative complaints and lawsuits. The landscape of these complaints is usually tricky, and defending against them is expensive. Employers who are prepared have at the ready an experienced harassment and discrimination defense attorney in California: the Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez, APC.
Why You Need an Experienced Harassment and Discrimination Defense Attorney in California
Both federal and state laws protect employees from harassment and discrimination, but California state law provides even greater protections. As a result, California employers may more often find themselves facing a complaint before the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) than before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To protect the business and other employees, employers rely on the Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez, APC when they need a harassment and discrimination defense attorney in California.
What Are Workplace Harassment and Discrimination?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace, but what does that really mean? Two general categories of harassment are actionable: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.
In quid pro quo harassment, a supervisor tells an employee that he or she will make a particular employment decision based on whether the employee meets sexual demands. For example, a supervisor might ask an employee to engage in sexual relations in return for a promotion or favored status of some kind. Quid pro quo harassment is sexual harassment only.
Harassment created by a hostile work environment differs from quid pro quo harassment in several ways. First, anyone can cause a hostile work environment regardless of whether he or she is in a position of authority or even an employee. Additionally, the hostile work environment does not necessarily involve sexual harassment. Instead, a hostile work environment exists when certain conduct is so pervasive that it creates a toxic working atmosphere for one or more employees.
Employers can be liable for either quid pro quo or hostile work environment harassment even if they formally prohibit such behavior. By engaging an experienced harassment defense attorney in California, an employer can learn what steps to take to educate employees on harassment and what policies and practices are required to address suspected harassment.
Workplace discrimination is conduct by a superior or coworker that is based on the recipient’s status in one of the categories protected by FEHA. A discrimination defense attorney in California helps employers create policies to identify and prohibit offensive conduct and defend the employer should a claim arise.
Protected Classes under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits harassment and discrimination against applicants for employment and employees on a number of bases:
- Age (over 40).
- Genetic information.
- Gender identity and gender expression.
- Marital status.
- Medical condition.
- Military or veteran status.
- National origin.
- Sexual orientation.
Clearly, California’s public policy protects applicants for employment and employees on grounds beyond federal anti-discrimination laws. That means employers must be more comprehensive and diligent in preventing harassment and discrimination in their workplaces and in defending complaints.
The Need for a Harassment and Discrimination Defense Attorney in California
The damages awarded in harassment and discrimination lawsuits can be substantial, sometimes easily exceeding the policy limits of an employer’s insurance policy. The Fair Employment and Housing Act provides for the award of front pay and back pay for applicants who are denied employment and for employees who prevail in their complaints. The Act also provides for punitive damages.
Awards of front pay and back pay under FEHA can be substantial, but the prospect of punitive damages introduces the possibility of an award that relies less on objective criteria. If an employer gets in front of the wrong court and jury with a bad set of facts, a devastating punitive damage award could result.
Employers are also subject to class action lawsuits by employees claiming they have, as a broad category, suffered harassment or discrimination. These kinds of cases can substantially increase the amount of damages and attorneys’ fees.
The potential damages awards in harassment and discrimination lawsuits pose a serious threat to businesses. Employers must have solid employment policies and practices that are legally compliant. It is even more critical to ensure that supervisors, managers, and employees follow policies and procedures closely. The only thing worse than not having a necessary employment policy is to have one that is ignored by management.
What Else Can a Harassment and Discrimination Defense Attorney in California Do for Your Business?
As discussed above, a harassment and discrimination defense attorney in California serves several purposes for employers. Many small- to medium-sized companies do not have the luxury of employing in-house counsel. Consequently, they have no immediate resource to provide legal guidance in policy-making and everyday personnel management, two activities that play a significant role in the avoidance of costly litigation. An experienced attorney can provide these services.
If the worst happens, however, and an employer, large or small, is faced with a harassment or discrimination lawsuit, having a competent litigator is a must. Even large companies that have in-house counsel are well-served by seeking outside counsel for the actual litigation of a complaint or lawsuit. Litigation is not part of the normal routine for in-house counsel, so turning to an attorney experienced in this aspect of legal proceedings is a smart play.
At the Law Offices of Susan A. Rodriguez APC, you will find the services you need from an experienced harassment and discrimination defense attorney in California. We partner with our clients, engaging in a personal relationship to provide a range of labor and employment legal services to employers of all sizes. From policy development to management training, full-scale litigation and everything in-between, we can serve your every need. Contact us at (213) 943-1323, or visit us online to see what our firm can do for your business.