Unfortunately, workplace harassment is still a prevalent issue in the U.S. Harassment can take on many forms, including sexual harassment and bullying related to a person’s race, religion or other protected characteristics.
A lot of these incidents are reported and addressed through HR departments or the courts. In fact, over 70,000 reports of misconduct in the workplace are filed each year. However, a substantial number of cases are thought to go unreported.
Why is this? Here are a few possibilities:
Fear of not being believed
Accusations of inappropriate behavior from colleagues are often played down. For instance, a co-worker might say something like, “Don’t be so dramatic” or “It was only a joke”, leading the person on the receiving end to feel that they are at fault. Even with the best of intentions, a colleague may downplay inappropriate behavior by stating, “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it”. If you or a colleague has raised an issue surrounding bullying, harassment or discrimination, it is important to take it as seriously as possible.
The threat of retaliation
Reporting inappropriate conduct in the workplace can be daunting, especially if the behavior has come from someone in a superior position. Managers tend to have the power to demote people, increase workloads, change schedules and even hire and fire employees. As a result, life can be made even more uncomfortable for a person who reports a person of higher standing within the company.
You have a legal right to work in an environment that is free from hostility, harassment and discrimination. If you have been subjected to inappropriate treatment, you have a host of legal rights as an employee in California.