In California, employers aren’t the only ones who face liability for harassment, including sexual harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. Individual supervisors are also liable for their own harassment and retaliation against employees.
Who Is Considered a Supervisor?
The law regarding sexual harassment makes employers strictly liable for sexual harassment committed by a supervisor. Therefore, it is important for employers, supervisors, and employees to understand who is considered a supervisor under the law.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines “supervisor” as “any individual having the authority to:
- Hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward, or discipline other employees
- Direct them, adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend a course of action based on their independent judgment.
Essentially, a supervisor is an employee who has the authority to make decisions on behalf of his or her employer relating to hiring, firing, promotions, rewards, and discipline. If a supervisor knew or should have known about harassment but failed to take actions to correct it, the employer can also be held liable.
Can Supervisors Be Held Personally Liable?
Depending on the case, an employee of a company can hold personal liability for acts of harassment, discrimination or retaliation. In addition to a supervisor's personal liability, the employer is usually held liable for misconduct as well.
Your Right To Report Harassment and Discrimination
Under the law, you have a right to report workplace misconduct such as harassment or discrimination, and participate in workplace investigations of such conduct without fear of retaliation. If an employer or supervisor is making threats or engaging in retaliatory acts against you, contact an employment attorney immediately.
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