What Damages Can an Employee Recover After Suffering Workplace Harassment in California?

California and United States laws prohibit workplace harassment. However, despite there being laws in place that prohibit workplace harassment, this continues to be a serious issue in California and the United States at large. Workplace harassment affects many employees and can significantly affect an individual’s career and well-being. Workplace harassment can cause physical harm, financial losses, and emotional distress. Fortunately, in California, employees who are subjected to workplace harassment are eligible to recover various forms of damages to address the harm suffered. In this article, we discuss the meaning of workplace harassment in California, the various forms of workplace harassment, and the damages that can be recovered in a workplace harassment case.

What Is Workplace Harassment?

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the state law that addresses workplace harassment. According to the law, workplace harassment is unwelcome behavior that is based on an individual’s protected characteristics, such as sexual orientation, age, gender, disability, or race. FEHA requires that employers prevent and address workplace harassment. Employers are required to, among other things, develop and implement policies aimed at preventing harassment, investigate harassment claims, and take action against perpetrators of harassment. An employer who fails to uphold this duty may be required to compensate an employee for damages that arise from workplace harassment.

Workplace harassment can take many forms. The following are some of the most common types of workplace harassment;

  • Sexual harassment
  • Discriminatory harassment
  • Physical harassment
  • Verbal harassment
  • Retaliation
  • Bullying
  • Psychological harassment
  • Power harassment

Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Workplace Harassment Case

In California, a worker who is subjected to workplace discrimination can file a legal claim and seek damages. Under FEHA, there are a few different types of damages that a worker who is subjected to workplace harassment may be entitled to, including the following;

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the financial losses incurred by the aggrieved party as a direct result of the harassment. In a workplace discrimination claim, examples of economic damages that may be recovered include lost past and future wages, medical expenses, job search costs, and lost earning capacity.

Non-Economic Damages

These are damages awarded for the intangible harm suffered due to the harassment. They are meant to compensate the victim for the emotional and psychological harm suffered due to the harassment. Non-economic damages that may be recovered in a California workplace harassment case include emotional distress, inconvenience, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish the employer rather than compensate the victim and deter similar conduct in the future. They are awarded in cases involving particularly egregious conduct. Punitive damages are awarded to send the message that workplace discrimination will not be tolerated.

Attorney’s Fees and Legal Costs

An employee who prevails in a harassment claim may be eligible to recover the attorney’s fees and legal costs incurred during the claims process. Seeking justice after being subjected to workplace harassment can place a heavy financial burden on a worker. This provision encourages aggrieved employees to seek justice without worrying about the financial burden.

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

If you have been subjected to workplace harassment and need help seeking justice and compensation, contact a qualified California employment lawyer near you.