As an independent contractor, it can be difficult when you experience harassment at work. Some companies might refuse to address the situation because you are a contractor and not an employee. However, there are still steps you can take.
According to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, companies have an obligation to stop any harassment. This protection extends to independent contractors, as well as others who are not official employees, such as volunteers and interns.
What steps are available to independent contractors?
When you experience harassment, you might initially speak to the person you work with at the company. If this person does not look into the situation, you typically need to pursue other solutions. Independent contractors can file a complaint with the DFEH.
You have a limited amount of time to file a complaint. You generally have one year from the last incident to submit your paperwork. Once this timeline has passed, officials may not be able to examine your claim.
What happens during the complaint process?
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing outlines a clear process to report harassment. You usually need to submit documentation about your experience, including the following details:
- The date of each incident
- The identity of your harasser
- The nature of the incident
If any of your colleagues witnessed the harassment, you should also include their names and contact information.
Once you submit all this documentation, someone from the department reviews it. If your situation meets the criteria, an official typically puts together a complaint form and sends it to your harasser. Someone may then work with both you and the company to resolve the situation.
The DFEH can usually take action only if an employer violated a law. You might experience unfair treatment. However, if no one at the company broke a law, a complaint may not always be valid.