Employer’s Duty To Ensure A Harassment-Free Workplace: What Does It Mean?

By: JML Law | May 21, 2018.
Employer’s Duty To Ensure A Harassment-Free Workplace: What Does It Mean?

In Los Angeles and all across California, employers have a legal duty to create and ensure a harassment-free workplace. But what does it mean, exactly?

The pace at which the #MeToo movement has brought down many influential men across many industries shows that people in California have no idea what it means to “create” or “ensure” a workplace free of sexual harassment.

“In a nutshell, a harassment-free workplace is can be created and ensured by the employer by preventing and taking proactive actions against foreseeable sexual harassment at work,” explains our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney at the JML Law.

The duty to ensure a harassment-free workplace also translates to properly training supervisors and employees about sexual harassment and immediately reacting to any sexual harassment claims filed by employees.

How to prove that the employer failed to prevent sexual harassment

Being accused of failing to prevent sexual harassment can be just as serious as being accused of sexually harassing someone. If an employer in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California allows sexual harassment to occur when it could and should have been prevented, it will be considered a violation of the law.

In order to prove that your employer failed to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, you – as the victim of sexual harassment – must show evidence of these two things:

  1. The employer was aware or should have been aware of the sexual misconduct on the part of the perpetrator.
  2. The employer failed to immediately and properly react to the illegal conduct.

In other words, an employer violated California laws if he/she was aware of the perpetrator’s history of sexual harassment, witnessed sexual misconduct in the workplace but failed to take action, and/or did not take reasonable and immediate steps to prevent further sexual harassment and punish the perpetrator when the victim complained.

Sexual harassment training requirements in California

Employers who have 50 or more employees are legally required to provide sexual harassment training to all employees in supervisory positions in Los Angeles and all across California. The training must be at least two hours long, must be completed within six months of the date the employee entered his/her duties and must be repeated once every 24 months (two years).

Under California sexual harassment laws, this training must define and provide practical guidance about federal and state laws regarding sexual misconduct at work. Also, the two-hour sexual harassment training must include information about the prevention and punishment of illegal conduct as well as provide examples of harassment and discrimination. Among other things, this training must outline the process for victims of sexual harassment to report sexual misconduct.

While it does not mean that you will be able to hold the employer responsible for failing to prevent sexual harassment in all cases, especially if you are not represented by a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney, failure to comply with these laws may leave the employer without a solid defense in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

In addition to that, employers in Los Angeles and all across California are also legally required to develop and distribute written employment policies regarding the prevention and correction of sexual harassment in the workplace. These policies must include all protected categories covered under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and outline a complaint process for victims, among other things.

Have you become a victim of sexual harassment at work? Do not hesitate to get a free consultation by contacting the JML Law. Call our offices at 818-610-8800 or send us an email today.

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