Severe & Pervasive Conduct
Fighting Severe & Pervasive Harassing Conduct in the Workplace
Harris Grombchevsky LLP Is Invested in Fighting for Employee Rights
Severe harassing conduct in the workplace can be incredibly difficult and debilitating to endure. A hostile work environment created by pervasive conduct can be equally insidious. For many employees dealing with severe or pervasive conduct in the workplace, this level of mistreatment can be both emotionally and physically taxing, leading to a toxic work environment that is impossible to tolerate. That is why our team of experienced employment attorneys is dedicated to helping individuals who have suffered from severe or pervasive harassing conduct in the workplace.
At Harris Grombchevsky LLP, we believe that everyone deserves to work in a safe and respectful environment. Our firm is conveniently located in Irvine, CA, and we have developed a reputation for providing informed, personalized representation across multiple practice areas, including employment law, civil litigation, and personal injury. With this background, we are well suited to guiding our clients through matters involving severe and pervasive workplace harassment and hostile work environment.
Understanding the Law Regarding Severe & Pervasive Harassing Conduct
A hostile work environment, that is harassing conduct that does not necessarily result in an actual or threatened immediate adverse employment action such as termination or demotion like quid pro quo harassment, is still considered harassment if it is severe or pervasive and unreasonably interferes with your ability to perform your job.
Specifically, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act an employee must show harassing conduct “severe enough or sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create a work environment that qualifies as hostile or abusive to employees because of their sex." Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 C4th 1035.
People often misstate this requirement as severe and pervasive. The standard is that the conduct must be severe or pervasive, not both severe and pervasive.
Recognizing Severe and/or Pervasive Harassing Conduct
The law holds that some normal interactions among coworkers can include inappropriate comments and jokes so long as they are infrequent and not severe in and of themselves. However, seemingly innocent hugs and kisses that are unwelcome can rise to the level of hostile work environment harassment. Whether the conduct is verbal or physical, the frequency and severity of the conduct, and whether or not it unreasonably interferes with your ability to perform your job is what matters.
A single incident will constitute harassment if it is severe enough, such as a sexual groping or other assault. A series of incidents or patterns of conduct rises to the level of harassment if it is frequent or continuous, even though no single incident may rise to meet the severe standard. The more frequent and incessant, or pervasive, the conduct is, the less severe it needs to be to create a hostile work environment.
Examples of Severe and/or Pervasive Harassing Conduct
For example, a single isolated comment by a supervisor complimenting you on your wardrobe or appearance, even if that comment is not welcomed, does not usually rise to the level of hostile work environment sexual harassment. On the other hand, a particularly violently vulgar comment about your body parts or repeated comments about your appearance over a longer period of time could constitute hostile work environment sexual harassment.
Similarly, an occasional dirty joke or inappropriate comment may not constitute a hostile work environment, but jokes coupled with comments about your appearance or sexually inappropriate email or text message conduct can constitute hostile work environment sexual harassment. Even conduct directed at others, which you observe or hear about repeatedly, can contribute to a hostile work environment for you.
Additionally, whether the conduct is engaged in by a co-worker or supervisor makes a big difference in the analysis because of the obvious power differential that exists with a supervisor, which may not exist with a co-worker. Even your coworker’s seniority or close relationship to your supervisor can create that power differential.
How Our Firm Can Help You
Consulting with an employment law attorney, like ours in Irvine, when facing severe or pervasive harassing conduct in the workplace can be significantly beneficial. A skilled attorney familiar with the complexities of employment law can guide you through the process of reporting the conduct to your employer, filing a formal complaint, or initiating a lawsuit if necessary. They may also assist you in gathering and preserving crucial evidence, handling all legal documentation, and representing you in any negotiations or court proceedings.
Besides providing professional advice and representation, your attorney can also provide emotional support during this challenging time. Most importantly, they can advocate for your rights, fighting for you to be treated fairly and for the pervasive conduct to be adequately addressed. In short, working with an employment law attorney can help you seek justice, potentially leading to compensation for any damages suffered and contribute to creating a safer, more respectful workplace for all.
If you are experiencing severe and/or pervasive conduct in the workplace, don't suffer in silence. Contact Harris Grombchevsky LLP to learn more about your legal options. We are here to help you fight back against workplace harassment.