Employee Harassment

What is the Harassment?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Government Code Section 12940 et seq.) establishes a civil right to be free from job harassment, either directly or indirectly, based on certain classifications or protected categories. 

Harassment is disrespectful or unprofessional conduct based on any of the protected categories listed above. Harassment includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Verbal harassment (such as slurs, jokes, insults, epithets, gestures, or teasing).
  • Visual harassment (such as the posting or distribution of offensive posters, symbols, cartoons, drawings, computer displays, or emails).
  • Physical harassment (such as physically threatening another person, making physical contact in an unwelcome manner, etc.)
  • Unwanted touching.
  • Sexual favors (such as unwanted sexual advances).
  • Retaliation for refusing to participate in sexual acts.

Who Do the Harassment Laws Protect?

  • Applicants
  • Employees
  • Independent Contractors
  • Unpaid interns
  • Volunteers


A harassment claim can be brought against an employer who regularly employs only one person or regularly receives the services of at least one independent contractor.

All employees, including individual supervisors are personally liable if they are the harassers. However, to hold the company liable for the acts of the individual harasser depends on who is doing the harassment and/or whether the employer was awareof the harassment. 



The individual doing the harassment is the employee’s co-worker (non-supervisor)

  • The individual harasser is personally liable;
  • The employer is liable for the harassment only if the employer, including its agents or the employee’s supervisor knew (direct or circumstantial) of the harassment and did not take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

The individual doing the harassment is the employee’s manager, supervisor or higher up employees, such as agents.

  • The individual harasser is personally liable;
  • The employer is liable. This is called Respondeat Superior


California recognizes two forms of harassment: Hostile work environment and quid pro quo. 

Quid pro quo harassment is typically seen in sexual harassment cases and it occurs where submission to sexual conduct is made a condition of employment benefits. (i.e. If you sleep with me, you will get a promotion). In order for quid pro quo harassment to be actionable the harasser must be the employee or applicant manager or supervisor. 

Element Number 1:
he or she was subject to offensive comments or other abusive conduct based on a protected category;
Element Number 2:
the harassing conduct was subjectively and objectively unwelcome; and,
Element Number 3:
the comments or conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of his or her employment.
  • Court’s look at the totality of the circumstances to determine whether the conduct of the harassers was sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile or abusive working environment. This may include:
  • The frequency of the discriminatory or harassing conduct. The conduct cannot be occasional, isolated, sporadic, or trivial. Rather, there must be a pattern of harassment of a repeated, routine, or a generalized nature.
  • The severity of the discriminatory or harassing conduct.
  • Whether the discriminatory or harassing conduct is physically threatening or humiliating versus a mere offensive utterance.
  • Whether the discriminatory or harassing conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee’s work performance.
Simple teasing, offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not be sufficient to amount to a change in the terms or conditions of employment.
To be actionable, California law does not even require that the applicant or employee be the direct victim of the harassment.

Example: Sexual favoritism. An employee can allege sexual harassment if she can show that her supervisor is giving preferential treatment to a co-worker that the supervisor is sleeping with.

To be actionable, California law does even require that the applicant or employee witness the harassment.
An employer is liable if a nonemployee harasses an employee and if the employer, or its agents or supervisors, knew or should have known of the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.


FEHA protects employees from hostile or abusive work environments.Under California law, it is unlawful for an employer with one (1) or more employees to harass an applicant or employee due to the following protected categories:

  • Racial Harassment.
  • Color Harassment.
  • Religious Harassment (including religious dress and grooming practices).
  • National Origin Harassment.
  • Ancestry Harassment.
  • Disability Harassment [Physical and Mental Disability].
  • Medical Condition Harassment [including cancer, a record of cancer, genetic characteristics, diseases, disorders, or other inherited characteristics].
  • Genetic information Harassment.
  • Marital status Harassment.
  • Sex Harassment [including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions].
  • Gender Harassment, Gender Identity Harassment and Gender expression Harassment.
  • Age Harassment [40 years and older].
  • Sexual orientation Harassment [heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality].
  • Military and Veteran status Harassment.
  • Opposition to Unlawful Harassment.
  • Association with a person that has any of the protected characteristics.
  • Protected medical leaves (requesting or approved for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act.
Unless the harassment is based on one of the above listed categories, the discrimination does not fall under the FEHA.

Los Angeles Harassment Lawyer Morris Nazarian

At the Law Office of Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney Morris Nazarian,we have been vigorously fighting to preserve and protect the rights of individuals who have been the victims of harassment at work. A highly compassionate and experienced Los Angeles Harassment Lawyer Morris Nazarian has over 15 years’ experience in the field and has won numerous high dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. An Attorney who has been named a “Super Lawyer,” Mr. Nazarian, provides a free, comprehensive consultation. Harassment matters are taken on contingency. You won’t be asked to pay any attorney’s fees unless Mr. Nazarian obtains a favorable settlement or monetary judgment.

Contact Los Angeles Harassment Lawyer

If you have been the victim of harassment in the workplace, it is Crucial that you speak to a qualified Los Angeles harassment attorney who understands these complex laws. At the Law Offices of Morris Nazarian, we have successfully represented employees who have been subject to harassment. Please contact Los Angeles Harassment Attorney Morris Nazarian by calling (310) 284-7333 to make an appointment for a free initial consultation or please fill out the Employment Law Case Evaluation Form and a Los Angeles Harassment Employment Lawyer will call or email you as soon as possible.