Scales of Justice

Abusive Conduct in the Workplace Will Be Defined

In California, new legislative standards on “abusive conduct” under AB 2053 will become effective on January 1, 2015. The law will require employers having 50 or more employees operating in California to include as part of the anti-harassment training to supervisors every two years (Gov. Code §12950.1) “prevention of abusive conduct” training.  “Abusive conduct” means “conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests.”  Abusive conduct may include “repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”  However, a “single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.”

While the law does not create a new cause of action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), it is a step in the right direction and, nevertheless, provides teeth in the sense that it specifically defines types of conduct that may constitute abusive harassment, such as derogatory remarks. If an employee is subjected to such abusive conduct because of the employee’s gender, age, race or other protected characteristic, then the employee may have a cause of action under the FEHA.

If you have experienced discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in your workplace, you may have a case against your employer. 

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