California law imposes a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment; and specifically makes it unlawful for an employer to harass an employee because of any of the protected categories. That is, the law does not allow an employer to take continued or systematic unwanted actions against an employee because of his or her:
- Religious Creed
- Use of Family and Medical Leave
- Disability (psychical or mental)Marital Status
- Medical Condition
- Genetic Information
- Military or Veteran Status
- National Origin
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding)
- Gender (including gender identity and gender expression)
- Sexual Orientation
California law also requires for employers to publish and distribute specific information to inform employees of the illegality of harassment.
An employer is absolutely liable or responsible for the harassment done by; and is only responsible or liable for the harassment done by a non-supervisor if the employer knew or should have known of the harassment and allowed the harassment to happen or continue.
More importantly, the harasser is personally liable or legally responsible to the harassed employee for the acts of harassment.
Sexual Harassment is typically defined as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or any other unwelcomed verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature to be illegal if the conduct includes offensive remarks about a person’s sex.
Sexual Harassment is illegal it creates a hostile working environment or when it results in a harmful or unfavorable employment action against an employee. A harasser can be a supervisor, a co-worker or someone who is not an employee of the employer like a customer or vendor.