Who is liable for harassment at workplace in California?

Many workers who are subjected to sexual or other forms or harassment prefer not to disclose this to their supervisor or human resources department. This reluctance to speak up is usually motivated by fear of retaliatory termination in response to a complaint about harassment.

However, choosing not to complain about harassment at your workplace is hardly ever a good idea. First, the harassment which is not addressed usually only gets worse as the harasser sees how much he can get away with without being punished. More importantly, under California law, while the employer is strictly liable for the harassment by a victim’s supervisor, the employer is liable for harassment by a co-worker only if the employer knew or had a reason to know of the harassment. Thus, by not complaining about harassment, the victim virtually forecloses the future opportunity to seek legal redress for hostile work environment and harassment, as it’s hard to blame someone for preventing harassment if that entity wasn’t even aware of misconduct which the victim of harassment was subjected to.