Under California law, your employer will be “strictly” liable for harassment perpetrated by a supervisor but may escape liability for harassment by a non-supervisor if the employer had no prior notice of the harassment.
In cases of harassment by employees without supervisory powers, the victim must show that the employer knew or should have known of the harassing conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Proof of knowledge may be direct or circumstantial. If the employer, its agents or supervisors did not know but should have known of the harassment, the employer will be deemed to have knowledge unless the employer can establish by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that it took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring. All reasonable steps may include affirmatively raising the subject of harassment, expressing strong disapproval, developing appropriate sanctions, informing employees of their right to raise and how to raise the issue of harassment under law, and developing methods to sensitize all concerned.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin