California Hostile Work Environment 2024 – All You Need To Know

California Hostile Work Environment

The inherent daily stressors of any job shouldn’t be compounded by working in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, it’s far too common for employees to experience toxicity in the workplace despite the existing laws in California that protect workers from this type of abusive mistreatment while on the job. If you believe your workplace is hostile, consider working with an experienced California hostile work environment attorney to understand your rights.

Understanding the Hostile Work Environment Laws in California

Workplace hostility is more significant than a simple dispute between your boss or your coworkers over something related to the job.

It is required under California Government Code 12940 for employers to prevent employees from experiencing or having to tolerate intimidation, harassment, or discrimination in the workplace. This includes harassment, intimidation, or discrimination by the employer, by other employees, and even by nonemployees.

In California, it is unlawful for an employer to permit discrimination against employees based on protected characteristics. Some of these characteristics include but are not limited to:

  • Age
  • Gender or gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Physical disability
  • Race
  • Religious creed
  • Sexual orientation

Examples of discrimination can include:

  • A supervisor making a racially offensive joke about you as an employee
  • An employee calling you by a slur because of your sexual orientation or gender identity
  • A coworker who refuses to work with you because of your religious beliefs
  • A boss who declined to give you a promotion specifically because of your age
  • Another employee mocking your physical disability

When this type of abusive behavior becomes accepted as part of the culture in a workplace or is so severe that it negatively impacts the ability of an employee or employees to do their job, that becomes a hostile work environment in California.

What To Do if You Believe Your Workplace Is Hostile

In California, there is legal recourse for workers in hostile work environments. If you’re experiencing workplace hostility, it’s important that you begin to document every incident that you believe is an act of harassment, discrimination, or intimidation by your employer or fellow employees in writing and include the names of those involved and any witnesses to the incident. This documentation may help you prove your case if you file suit against your employer.

It’s also important to report these incidents to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, in a timely manner, as there are windows for filing reports depending on the type of harassment or discrimination experienced. The EEOC will also share your report with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or DFEH, which is the organization that outlines and enforces employment laws in the state.

If the EEOC finds that your employer didn’t adhere to employment laws at the state or federal level, you will be issued a Notice of Right to Sue and can proceed with a claim against your employer in order to seek damages. Hiring an attorney who is familiar with workplace hostility claims in California can help you navigate the courts so that you’re more likely to be granted the damages that you’re entitled to receive by law based on your case.


Q: What Qualifies as a Hostile Work Environment in California?

A: Hostile work environments come in many varieties. Ultimately, a workplace is considered to be hostile if an employee or employees are not able to do their job because of ongoing abuse or mistreatment by their employer, fellow employees, or sometimes even nonemployees. Employers in California are required by law to prevent discrimination, harassment, or intimidation, which contribute to hostile work environments.

Examples of what qualifies as a hostile work environment include workplaces that permit sexual harassment, verbal harassment, physical violence, and threatening statements. If you’ve experienced any of this type of abuse while on the job in California, talking to a professional employment law attorney can help you determine if your experience qualifies as a hostile work environment case.

Q: What Is Proof of a Hostile Work Environment?

A: If you believe your work environment is hostile, you are responsible for providing proof to support your claim in California. This is why it’s critical to document any and every incident that you feel contributes to your workplace being hostile. Text messages, emails, and voicemails of conversations can help prove your case. You can also name others who were witnesses to the harassment, intimidation, or discrimination you experienced.

Your proof must show that the workplace hostility you experienced was severe or pervasive enough to prohibit you from doing your job. In instances of discrimination, you need to be prepared to show evidence that the discrimination was based on your protected characteristics, such as your sex, marital status, physical disability, or age.

Q: Is Yelling a Hostile Work Environment in California?

A: Yelling does not always constitute a hostile work environment in California, but it can be a factor that contributes to a generally hostile workplace. If yelling is a common occurrence in your place of work and if you’re being yelled at by your employer or a fellow employee because of any of your protected characteristics like gender, race, color, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation, then the court could determine you’re a victim of a hostile work environment.

Q: Can I Sue My Employer for a Hostile Work Environment in California?

A: Yes, you can sue an employer for a hostile work environment in California. However, you must be granted a Notice of Right to Sue after filing a report with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, before you’re able to proceed with filing a civil case against your employer in order to seek damages. Working with an attorney can help you be better prepared to proceed with a claim against your employer.

Get Help From an Attorney Who Understands Workplace Hostility Cases

When it comes to helping workers in hostile work environments, trust the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez. We have the knowledge of employment laws in California that you can depend on to help you get the justice you deserve if you’ve experienced hostility in the workplace. Let us stand up for your rights as a worker in California. Contact us today for a consultation if you believe you’re a victim of workplace hostility.

schedule an appointment

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.