California Government Code Section 12940, et al. prohibits covered employers from engaging in harassment, and discrimination in the terms or conditions of employment, on the basis of an employee's protected characteristics (age, rage, national origin, disability, etc.). Furthermore, the law requires employers to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace. The California Supreme Court has defined harassment as conduct that is outside the scope of necessary job performance; conduct presumably engaged in for personal gratification, because of meanness or bigotry, or for other person motives.



Harassment can be categorized into verbal harassment, physical harassment, or visual harassment. Verbal harassment consists of but is not limited to derogatory comments, slurs, comments and jokes. Physical harassment is defined as unwanted touching, assault and physical interference with one's movement or work. Visual harassment includes derogatory cartoons, drawings, or posters, and lewd gestures. Additionally, workplace harassment can involve violence or threats of violence. In other words, harassment can take on many forms: slurs; offensive cartoons or e-mails passed around the office; condescending terms from a harasser; condescending body language, tone of voice or demeanor; color harassment; racist jokes; passing people of color over for promotion or raises, and so on. Furthermore, acts of discrimination or discrimination, by a supervisor, may be found to be harassment.