Can You Sue for Verbal Abuse at Work in California?

Can You Sue for Verbal Abuse at Work in California?
Jun 22, 2017

Did you know that 42% of workers in the United States have reported being victims of verbal abuse at work? If you are one of these employees who has suffered from verbal abuse, you may be able to file a workplace harassment complaint. But how do you know when you can sue your employer for verbal abuse? This article will help you understand how California law protects workers from verbal abuse in the workplace.

What is Considered Workplace Verbal Abuse?

Verbal abuse, or verbal bullying, is any negative defining statement told to a victim or about a victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent. If someone verbally abuses you, they do not apologize or retract their defining statement. People verbally abuse others to demean the person who is targeted, or to bond with other people who “have something against” the target.

Examples of Verbal Abuse in the Workplace

While verbal abuse at work can come in the form of loud, offensive spoken words, this isn’t always the case. Some common forms of verbal abuse you may experience in the workplace include the following:

  • You are threatened by your boss or coworker.
  • You are yelled or cursed at by your boss or coworker.
  • You are insulted or mocked by your boss or coworker (in private or in front of others).
  • Your boss or coworker is spreading rumors about you.
  • Your boss or coworker teases or embarrasses you (in private or in front of others).

Can I Sue My Employer for Verbal Abuse at Work?

Verbal abuse itself is not unlawful under state or federal laws. However California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment in the workplace on a discriminatory basis.

Unlawful workplace harassment can include verbal abuse based on your membership in a protected class, including:

  • Epithets
  • Derogatory comments
  • Slurs

The FEHA also requires your employer to take every reasonable step to prevent workplace harassment from occurring.

Additionally, if you are suffering from health issues due to stress from workplace verbal abuse, CalOSHA may find your employer liable for not providing you with a safe and healthy work environment.

You may be able to sue your employer for verbal abuse if you can prove that the harassment is due to discrimination under California law. You may also be able to sue if you can prove the abuse has created an unsafe working environment under CalOSHA regulations.

File a Lawsuit for Verbal Harassment at Work

If you are suffering from severe emotional distress due to workplace verbal abuse, or if you feel that your employer is violating California workplace harassment laws, it’s important to act quickly. Contact our Los Angeles, California workplace harassment attorneys for a free consultation today.

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