Despite the existence of state, federal and even local human rights and anti-discrimination ordinances, some workers in San Francisco continue to experience discrimination on the job. Going through sexual harassment or discrimination can be an emotionally draining experience, especially on top of the financial and professional hits that accompany this type of mistreatment. Workers have a right not to face discrimination in hiring, firing or promotions due to their protected characteristics, which include race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, age and often sexual orientation or gender identity. Workers also have the right to be free of harassment based on these characteristics, including sexual harassment.
Many workers are worried about reporting sexual harassment or employment discrimination because they fear retaliation from higher-ups on the job. In California, the Omnibus Sexual Harassment Bill provides workers with greater protections than those under federal law, but retaliation is just as unlawful as harassment and discrimination itself across the country. While it is true that many employers have at-will employment, this does not legitimize a termination or demotion that is caused by discrimination against a protected class or retaliation against a good-faith complaint of mistreatment.
On a federal level, victims of sexual harassment need to show severe or pervasive conduct that creates a hostile work environment. In some instances, a single incident is sufficiently severe to make a case. Other times, a victim suffers from ongoing, smaller acts of mistreatment that add up to a discriminatory environment.
Workers have greater protections in California under its state laws. However, workers continue to experience unlawful employment discrimination on a daily basis and lose out on thousands of dollars as a result. Someone who has faced sexual harassment or discrimination at work may consult with an employment law attorney about their options to file a complaint and uphold their rights.