Workplace Harassment and Slurs

By Gregory Thyberg on November 17, 2018


An employment contract in a meeting roomSlurs should never be tolerated at a workplace. Racist, sexist, and intolerant language contribute to a hostile work environment, which negatively affects you and your co-workers in a number of ways. Our Sacramento, CA workplace harassment attorneys can help the victims of discrimination from co-workers and supervisors. At ThybergLaw, we will look out for our clients and help promote welcoming workplaces throughout the state.

We’d like to consider the laws concerning slurs and discriminatory language while at work. We’ll note the steps you should take regarding this language and how you can be proactive when employers fail to discipline co-workers who make your workplace a toxic environment.

The Law Regarding Discrimination at the Workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination at the workplace and in hiring. That includes any kind of targeted harassment at the workplace based on the gender, race, and religion of an employee. In the state of California, these protections extend to gender and sexual orientation thanks to The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

In short, who you are should result in mistreatment where you work. Similarly, a person's identity is no excuse for insults or comments that could be considered disparaging.

Slurs and Workplace Harassment

If you hear slurs used at work or any other kinds of abusive or discriminatory language, keep in mind that just a single disparaging comment could constitute workplace harassment. Even if you are not targeted by the slur, this kind of language should not be tolerated. Just because you are not the victim of bigotry does not excuse these kinds of sentiments in a professional setting.

If an employee or supervisor has a history of slurs based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, they should be held accountable for engaging in harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

What to Do If You Overhear a Slur at Work

If you overhear slurs being used at work, be sure to report it to your supervisor and/or your HR department. There should be rules in the employee handbook that prohibit the use of this kind of language, as well as disciplinary measures taken against those who use such language. This is the first step to take to combat this kind of workplace toxicity.

Legal Actions to Take If Your Workplace Does Nothing

Sometimes after reporting the use of slurs at work, an employee is not reprimanded for their actions. This should not be tolerated as it demonstrates the management’s support for hostile workplaces where discrimination will not be punished.

If there is no discipline for a blatant disregard for co-workers and the environment at the workplace, it’s imperative that you report this to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Making a formal complaint will help ensure further investigation into this matter moves forward, and that the employee and your employer are held accountable.

Our Lawyers Are Here to Help

If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination/harassment or have overheard slurs used at your workplace, our attorneys are here to help. We can give you guidance regarding your legal actions against your employer, and help with the gathering of evidence in your case. We are here to protect the rights of workers and the people of California.

Learn More About Your Legal Rights

If you or someone you know has been the victim of harassment or discrimination, be sure to contact an experienced workplace law and employment attorney. The team at ThybergLaw is here to help. You can reach our law firm by phone at (916) 204-9173.

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