In California, workplace bullying, and harassment are not only harmful to employees’ well-being, but they are also illegal under the state’s “abusive conduct” law. This law, which was enacted in 2015, aims to protect employees from abusive behavior in the workplace and to hold employers accountable for failing to address such conduct. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what constitutes abusive conduct under California law and what employers can do to prevent it.
What is Abusive Conduct in California?
Under California law, abusive conduct refers to conduct that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to the employer’s legitimate business interests. This can include verbal abuse, physical conduct, and other actions that create a hostile work environment. The law specifically defines abusive conduct as conduct that is “repeatedly directed towards a particular person or persons.”
It’s important to note that not all workplace behavior that is deemed unpleasant or offensive is considered abusive conduct under the law. The behavior must be severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment for the employee.
What Does the Law Require of Employers?
Under the law, employers have a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent and correct abusive conduct in the workplace. This includes implementing policies and procedures to prevent and address such conduct, providing training to employees on how to recognize and report abusive conduct, and conducting prompt and thorough investigations into any allegations of abusive conduct.
Employers who fail to take reasonable steps to prevent or correct abusive conduct may be subject to liability for damages, including emotional distress, lost wages, and other damages caused by the abusive conduct.
What Can Employees Do About Abusive Conduct In California?
Employees who believe they are the victims of abusive conduct in the workplace should report the behavior to their employer’s HR department or other designated reporting channel. If the employer fails to take action to address the behavior, the employee may file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or file a lawsuit against the employer.
It’s important for employees to document any incidents of abusive conduct and to keep a record of their efforts to report the behavior to their employer. This can help strengthen their case if they decide to file a complaint or lawsuit.
California’s abusive conduct law is an important tool in protecting employees from workplace bullying and harassment. Employers have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and correct such conduct, and employees have the right to report abusive behavior and seek legal remedies if their employer fails to address the behavior. By working together, employers and employees can create a workplace that is free from abusive conduct and respectful of everyone’s rights and dignity.