In California it is illegal to discriminate against an employee due to their real or perceived sexual orientation. Discrimination can take many forms. An employer cannot refuse to hire, fire, fail to promote, demote, discipline, or take any other “adverse employment action” against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.

-Harvey Milk

Harassment based on your sexual orientation or gender identity is also illegal in California. Harassment is any conduct that is offensive, hostile, or intimidating, and that is so “severe or pervasive” that it affects your ability to work. This means it needs to be more than one stray comment or joke at your expense. If you are being harassed by a co-worker, you also need to report the harassment, and give your employer the opportunity to investigate and correct the situation. If your employer fails to do so, then your employer may be liable for your co-workers conduct. Failing to properly investigate your complaint is also a violation.

If a supervisor is committing the harassment, your employer is “strictly liable.” Under these circumstances while you do not technically have to report the harassment in order for your employer to be found liable, if you can do so safely, it is often wise to do so.

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