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California victim of workplace harassment awarded $1.5 million

Category: Hostile Work Environment

Being mistreated or harassed at work can make every day feel worse than the day before. People who are victims of this type of behavior can be scared to report harassment because they are afraid of losing their jobs or they may just want to try and ignore the whole ordeal. Victims of a hostile work environment in California may not realize that they have rights as an employee to a safe and fair workplace, free from harassment and discrimination.

Workers who are mistreated on the job because of their age, gender or race have the right to take legal action against a party for discrimination. Not only can a lawsuit result in compensation for a victim, but it can highlight systemic issues and failings that need to be addressed. One case in California shows just how effective these legal actions can be.

The case involves a long-time officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. During his time on the job, the man, who is black, says that he was the target of derogatory racial comments on multiple occasions. Other officers and even his supervisor would make racially-inappropriate jokes at the man’s expense, creating a hostile work environment. He filed a lawsuit and was recently awarded $1.2 million plus $300,000 that will help the man cover legal fees, among other expenses.

Not only did this case address concerns in this immediate situation, but it also effectively contributed to the ongoing conversation about whether more city employees should undergo harassment training. Had more people been trained in lawful employment practices, it is possible that this man’s case could have been avoided or at least resolved long ago.

It can be very embarrassing, frightening and humiliating to be the victim of unfair or inappropriate behaviors at work. However, with legal support and resources, it is possible for victims of harassment or discrimination to pursue compensation for damages and hold a party publicly accountable for violations of an employee’s rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “L.A. pays $1.5 million in racial harassment case,” David Zahniser, Nov. 9, 2013

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