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California woman claims employer retaliation in new lawsuit

In the Los Angeles area, and across the country, the modern workplace tends to be extremely diverse. Most workers and employers understand the value of diversity and work to maintain a comfortable, productive and professional environment. However, there are times when certain incidents arise that can make all workers understandably apprehensive. The use of racial slurs can be deeply offensive to people from all backgrounds, and hearing them in the workplace can be jarring, at the very least, even as a bystander. Employers who fail to correct a hostile work environment can face litigation.

Recently in California, an investigative assistant at a District Attorney's office claimed she was on the receiving end of a racial slur. Moreover, she argues, her employer failed to properly address the problem and even retaliated against her for making a complaint. According to the lawsuit, which was filed against the San Francisco District Attorney's Office as well as against the city itself, the incident began when a mouse ran through the office, and the plaintiff, who is African American, let out a scream and jumped. Her co-worker allegedly used an offensive racial slur in response.

The plaintiff did not immediately report the incident to human resources, knowing that her co-worker was friends with that department's director. After encouragement by other colleagues, though, she did report the alleged slur to HR. The lawsuit claims that the human resources director for the D.A.'s office argued that the co-worker's purported statement was not enough to create a hostile work environment. For their part, the suit alleges, the city refused to investigate.

After making the complaint, the plaintiff argues that the HR director claimed to have lost the record of the complaint. In addition, the plaintiff noted, she was then forced to do certain duties for her co-worker, heard snide comments from the HR director and received an unusually poor job evaluation. The woman then filed a complaint centering on equal employment opportunity with the city, but she argues that the city did not properly investigate the matter.

Retaliation cases can be complicated, which is why it's important to secure experienced legal representation. Being retaliated against by your employer is a difficult experience, but employees in California do have critical rights. An experienced employer retaliation attorney can aid a man or woman whose working environment has become hostile and unmanageable.

Source:, "Worker sues D.A.'s office alleging retaliation for reporting slur," Vivian Ho, Jan. 4, 2016

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