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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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Hello, I am asking this question on behalf of my mother who

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Hello, I am asking this question on behalf of my mother who speaks limited english and is a custodian at a community college. She is being (and has been over several years) harassed and bullied at work by a coworker. She told her manager who did nothing to stop the harassment and she filed a formal complaint with the community college who dismissed her complaint saying that her complaints do not fall under discrimination issues. Meanwhile, she continues to have her work heavily scrutinized by this coworker (who is the custodial lead) and was retaliated against for reporting this coworker. This coworker assigns my mom extra tasks that other coworkers are not subjected to and is constantly looking over my mom's shoulder for any sign of wrong-doing so she can write my mom up. My mother has been suffering from anxiety and is under great stress because of this issue. She has also complained to her union office and they, too have done nothing to stop the bullying and harassment.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's situation and hope I can help.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

I need a bit more information from you before I can proceed to provide you with a complete and thorough answer to your question.

Can you tell me if your mother has reason to believe that she is being treated in this unfair and unethical manner due to discrimination based on a protected characteristic (race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, etc.)?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It's hard to prove that she's being discriminated based on those protected characteristics as her coworker who's harassing has not openly made comments to that effect.

Even if she couldn't prove that she is being treated unfairly due to discrimination based on a protected characteristic, if she has reason to believe that that is what is happening, she should file a complaint against her employer with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which can do online here:

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing will investigate her case on her behalf and either file suit on her behalf or issue her a right to sue letter so she can pursue her claims against her employer through a private attorney.

(The investigation may turn up evidence of discrimination).

Otherwise, she should file a complaint with HR or her employer rather than the union. Since her co-worker is also a union member (with more seniority than she has) the union will not really be a good place to pursue this complaint.

She'd have a much better shot taking this to her employer's HR to deal with the situation, and they are more likely to take action to prevent any potential liability if they wouldn't.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any clarifying questions as I want to ensure that you are completely satisfied with my service.

If not, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get paid for my work. (It is necessary for you to rate my answer even though you’ve made a deposit or are a subscriber. I only receive compensation for my work if you rate me positively). Otherwise, I receive nothing for assisting you.

Thanks and best of luck!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She has already taken the complaint to her employer (both her direct manager and the HR department), both of which have not done anything. She even had reported a specific violation of union rules committed by her coworker against my mom and again, HR did nothing to reprimand the coworker.

Then she really should go to an outside agency (like the DFEH) to report the situation.

She also may be eligible for workers' compensation due to the anxiety and stress that she is under.

And she may have a claim against the person directly for negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What are steps she can take to start building a case for any harassment and/or bullying incidents (in addition to just documenting these incidents)?