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What Does Workplace Discrimination Look Like in California?

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

Learn How to Spot The Major Signs Of Workplace Discrimination

All are entitled to a respectful and discrimination-free workplace. Discrimination, on the other hand, takes many forms and persists to this day. Discrimination can take many forms, ranging from rude remarks and microaggressions to outright abuse and revenge. You can lose promotions as a result of your employer's abuse. Discriminatory behavior can cause you a lot of mental and emotional pain.

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You will feel helpless to battle the people who sign your paychecks because most of us need a job to live. You don't have to take all of it, though. If you've been discriminated against at work, you'll need an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles on your side to fight for you and your employment. Don't suffer in silence when the boss engages in criminal activity.

What Are the Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Discrimination in the workplace is covered by both state and federal legislation. California is one of the most employee-friendly states in the world, if not the most.

However, not all forms of discrimination are illegal. To file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer, you must be a member of a protected class. Any prejudice you've faced needs to be based on your safe identity.

What Is a Protected Class and How Does It Work?

Protected classes are categories that have experienced discrimination in the past. These classes are also afforded special legal protection. We have a few articles on the most common workplace discrimination claims against protected classes, which are as follows:

Anti-discrimination laws at the federal level

To ensure that everyone's rights are secured, anti-discrimination laws have been passed over time for civil rights and public policy. These laws make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of:

  • Race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and membership in a Native American tribe are all protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA).

  • Pregnancy, childbirth, or other associated circumstances, including termination or miscarriage, are covered under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people over the age of 40.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities.

  • The Equal Pay Act (EPA) – equal pay for equal work

  • Citizenship status or national origin under the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

  • Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866

  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits discrimination based on genetic information

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the United States Department of Justice are in charge of enforcing federal discrimination laws (DOJ)

Every statute has its own set of legal specifications. The Equal Pay Act, for example, is broad in scope and extends to almost all employers. Local governments, job agencies, trade unions, and private companies with 15 or more workers are covered by the ADA.

A Los Angeles Employment Lawyer who specializes in work and labor law will assist you in understanding your rights.

What is the Best Place to File a Discrimination Lawsuit?

When it comes to filing a discrimination case, location is crucial. Under federal law, all lawsuits that occur on federal lands, such as military bases, will be heard in federal court. As a result, the rights could be weaker than in state court.

Employee claimants in states like California have a lot more leeway than they do in federal courts. In order for a federal civil trial to be successful, the jury must make a unanimous decision. In California, however, only 3/4 of the jury must agree with your point.

What Are Some Examples of Workplace Discrimination?

If you are subjected to negative consequences or unjust or unfair treatment because of your protected features, this is known as unlawful discrimination. Direct or indirect, deliberate or unintentional, discrimination can take many forms.

When your employer attacks you directly because of your protected trait, this is known as direct discrimination. This may entail:

  • Terminating your contract or firing you

  • Choosing not to recruit you or demote you

  • Refusing to provide you with any instruction or protective equipment

  • You are being denied promotions or being written up for disciplinary action.

  • Forcing you to resign or evicting you

  • Paying you less, lowering your wage, or refusing to provide you with fair pay and benefits

  • Offensive comments and jokes are used to create a hostile work environment.

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It's more difficult to prove indirect discrimination than overt discrimination. Your employer could defend themselves by doing the following:

  • Claiming that their policy was logically justified due to a legitimate business necessity, such as a health or safety concern

  • Demonstrating that their strategy was a proportionate means of achieving their objectives.

The facts of each discrimination case determine the outcome. Microaggressions are a form of discrimination that can be difficult to prove in court. Discriminatory conduct may be a company-wide phenomenon or an institutional problem. Discrimination may also start at the top, with managers who model and perpetuate bad behavior.

It can be intimidating to be up against such odds. For the sake of your future, you might be tempted to put your head down. However, you do not have to put up with this kind of treatment at work. We're here to assist you in putting an end to it and obtaining the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination in the workplace. This is a federal rule that applies to every state in the country. Employers are prohibited by Title VII from:

  • If you don't want to recruit anyone, don't hire them.

  • An employee may be disciplined or fired.

  • Pay a lower salary or offer fewer benefits to an employee.

  • Employees are not given chances or promotions.

  • Employees or candidates are improperly labeled or separated.

  • Because of their ancestry, ethnicity, color, or national origin (this could refer to a person's appearance, birthplace, or ancestry).

While applying for or starting a job, you might have filled out a form with racial details. Since affirmative action policies allow employers to inquire about race, this is the case. As long as you are not required to respond, and no decisions are taken based on the details you provide, this is legal.

Employers with 15 or more staff are subject to Title VII. Local, state, and federal governments, as well as private and public universities, are all included. Employment organizations are prohibited from making referrals or assigning jobs based on ethnicity under Title VII. Labor unions are also prohibited from discriminating against members based on race. It is also against the law to discriminate against you because of your spouse's race.

Title VII covers both intentional discrimination and neutral policies that result in discrimination. Direct and indirect discrimination are terms used to describe these situations. If any of this confuses you, consult a Los Angeles Employment Attorney to help with your case.

California's Anti-Racial Discrimination Law

Companies that are not covered by federal legislation are covered by California state law. As a result, workers in California are better protected. Any employer with five or more workers is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or ethnicity under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Ethnicity refers to a person's cultural traits depending on where they were born or where their ancestors originated from. For Native Americans, this requires tribal membership. This may include:

  • Your given name

  • The languages you can communicate in

  • Your religion's relation to your society

The FEHA also prohibits racial or ethnic harassment of any employee, candidate, contractor, or unpaid volunteer. Consider one of our prescreened California Employment Attorneys in your California Attorney Search.

Racial Discrimination in Its Many Forms

When you are handled differently because of your race, this is known as direct discrimination. This is also known as unequal care. The following are some examples of overt ethnic discrimination:

  • A hiring manager might rule out candidates with certain names

  • Being left out of projects or groups because you "don't belong"

  • Your colleagues make remarks about your appearance or customs

  • Using racial slurs or making offensive remarks in the workplace

  • Racial harassment in the workplace that produces a hostile work atmosphere is also prohibited.

Indirect Racial Discrimination Examples

Even when workers do not intend to discriminate, indirect racial discrimination may occur. Treating everybody the same can often put a group of people at a disadvantage. On the surface, a company policy may appear to be "reasonable," but it may be detrimental when implemented.

  • A company dress code can be incompatible with your cultural attire.

  • Certain ethnic categories can be disqualified as a result of hiring criteria.

Discrimination isn't always obvious. People seldom confess to acting in response to discrimination. Your boss might invent a new excuse, casting doubt on your work ethic or character. This could damage your reputation and cost you potential employment opportunities.

What if you weren't even considered for a position because of your race? What do you do first? Most of the time, you won't have a smoking gun in the form of an email or recorded message.

You could demonstrate the following to prove racial discrimination:

  • Your company's recruiting practices are racially biased.

  • Someone with less experience or qualifications than you was recruited or promoted ahead of you.

  • Your work history and performance evaluations contradict your employer's assertions.

  • Similar incidents have occurred among employees of the same ethnicity.

It's important to keep track of any racist behavior wherever possible. This is particularly true when the behavior is ingrained in the company's culture. Written proof is preferable, but witness testimony from coworkers may also be useful.

As soon as possible, you can begin collecting whatever evidence you can. You don't want to give your boss enough time to ruin your property. Emails and files can be lost and are difficult to retrieve. You should lose access to your employee accounts if you are dismissed.

This can be a tricky legal area to navigate, particularly when it comes to trade secrets and non-disclosures. That is why you should consult an Employment Attorney in Los Angeles.

Are you above the age of 40? Has your boss begun to handle you differently as a result of your age? Do you believe you were passed over for a job because your boss believed you were too old to learn anything new?

This may be age discrimination, which is against the law in the workplace. Anyone over the age of 40 is protected from age discrimination in the workplace under the Age Discrimination in Jobs Act of 1967 (ADEA).

You're also shielded from age discrimination by workers over 40. A 60-year-old, for example, cannot be treated differently than a 50-year-old. Private employers with 20 or more workers, job agencies, and labor unions are also covered by the ADEA. The ADEA is overseen by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

What About the Younger Workers?

Jobs under the age of 40 are not covered by the ADEA. California does not have any additional laws to cover younger workers. In reality, even though both employees are over 40, the ADEA allows employers to choose an older employee over a younger employee.

What Constitutes Workplace Age Discrimination?

Employers are not permitted to treat you unfairly because of your age. What are some examples of discrimination based on age?

  • Your employer fires you and replaces you with a younger employee who is paid less.

  • You no longer get promotions, raises, or large-scale assignments.

  • You're reassigned to difficult roles or excluded from successful client accounts.

  • You begin to receive remarks and inquiries regarding your age and retirement plans.

  • Your organization begins to promote early retirement opportunities.

  • Even if the quality of your work has improved, your performance reviews have unexpectedly deteriorated.

Employers are also prohibited from making hiring decisions based on age under the ADEA. This can involve asking about your age on a job application or measuring your age based on your experience and qualifications and then discriminating against you as a result.

During the recruiting process, an employer should only inquire about your age if it is a fair and necessary concern for the company's operations.

Employer Policies that Discriminate Against People of a Certain Age

Even if the boss does not pick you out for age discrimination, it can happen. Even if it isn't done on purpose, you can be discriminated against. For instance, suppose a company policy extends to all but has a negative impact on workers over the age of 40.

During layoffs, age discrimination is a major concern. Even if the company does not want to lay off older employees, they must exercise caution. If a disproportionate number of older workers are laid off, the company could be committing age discrimination.

Your employer can also protect itself by demonstrating that layoff decisions were made based on anything other than age, such as your performance evaluations.

In the United States, one out of every four adults has an impairment. This number rises with age, with 40% of people aged 65 and up reporting living with a disability.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects workers from discrimination in the workplace because of their disability. Employers with 15 or more workers are subject to this federal statute, which extends in the United States. Many states, including California, have laws that give small businesses similar protections.

The ADA and California law both provide protection to disabled employees by:

  • Making it illegal to discriminate against employees because of their disabilities.

  • Employers are required to make fair allowances for workers with disabilities.

If the employer does any of the following, they may be responsible for disability discrimination:

  • Because of your disability, take negative action against you.

  • If you don't make a fair arrangement for your condition, you'll be penalized.

Disability discrimination is illegal and can have a negative impact on your job and mental health. However, you have choices for safeguarding your interests.

Who is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

If you're an employee, you're covered by the ADA if you:

  • If you have a disability right now

  • Have a prior disability or a history of impairment.

The ADA also protects you if your employer believes you have a disability, even if your employer is mistaken and you do not have one. You are also covered by the ADA during the interview and hiring process. An employer cannot inquire about your medical history or compel you to undergo a medical examination to determine your condition during this period.

To be covered under the ADA, you must be a qualified worker.

To be considered competent, you must be able to perform the job's critical functions, with or without fair accommodations from your employer. Your basic responsibilities are those that are required of you in your role. For example, if your condition prevents you from performing your job even with accommodations, you can not be a skilled worker.

What Does the ADA Define as a Disability?

A disability, as defined by the ADA, is a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts a major life operation. What constitutes a significant life activity?

  • Running, reading, and speaking are all basic activities.

  • Immune system activity is one of the most important bodily functions.

  • You may be required to have copies of medical records or reports from your doctor in order to show your disability.

Keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) imposes strict privacy and confidentiality provisions. Your medical records must be kept separate from your general personnel file and kept confidential and safe. Your employer is therefore prohibited from disclosing your condition to others except under limited circumstances, such as when offering accommodations to supervisors and managers.

Discrimination against people with disabilities can take many forms. Here are a few examples:

  • Harassment and insulting comments are used to create a hostile work environment.

  • Because of your disability, employers are refusing to accept you for some jobs.

  • At your interview, ask if you have a disability and then disqualify you because of it.

  • Because of your disability, you are being passed over for promotions or programs.

Accommodations that are affordable

The ADA does more than just defend people from discrimination. Employers must also make fair allowances for disabled staff. You have the right to sue your employer if they refuse to make fair accommodations for your disability.

Suitable accommodation is a change or adaptation that allows you to perform your basic job functions. The following are some examples of fair accommodations:

  • Providing assistance

  • Changing where you work

  • Changing your job responsibilities or working hours

  • Allowing you to take time off for medical reasons

Your employer must provide you with an "interactive mechanism." This is a conversation in which you can ask for fair accommodation because of your disability. Your employer is not required to provide the exact solution you request as long as they provide something else that is functional.

You cannot begin the procedure unless your condition is apparent or your employer is aware of it; your employer is not liable for guessing your disability. If it would be an unfair burden, the employer is required to make a reasonable arrangement.

What Is an Undue Burden?

For your employer, an undue burden is a major challenge or cost. If providing accommodations is an unnecessary burden for your boss, he or she is not obligated to do so. The facts in your situation will determine whether or not the accommodation is an unnecessary burden. Particularly:

  • The type of lodging needed, as well as the associated costs

  • The financial capital of your employer (a larger, more successful employer could afford to take on more than a small business)

  • The essence, scale, and structure of your employer's company

  • Your company has already covered the rest of the lodging expenses.

If the cost puts the employer's financial survival in jeopardy, it's most likely an unnecessary burden. This can occur if the business is too small or the cost of lodging is too high.

Most occupational disability accommodations, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), cost less than $500. Many employers should be able to afford this.

The California State Disability Act protects people with disabilities

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which applies to any employer with five or more workers, provides similar provisions to the ADA. Such rights under Federal and California laws for People with Disabilities. If you have a disability, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act can provide you with additional benefits (CFRA).

  • You must demonstrate the following to prove disability discrimination in the workplace:

  • You had an impairment, or your boss believed you did, or you had a history of disability.

  • You were eligible for the role and capable of carrying out your responsibilities.

  • Because of your disability, you were terminated from your employment.

It's not uncommon to have written proof that you were discriminated against. However, in the vast majority of situations, you would be subjected to a negative work action for no apparent reason. Worse, your job performance could be wrongly questioned as a result of this.

In these situations, you can have to rely on circumstantial evidence to support your argument.

For instance, you could demonstrate that:

  • A disproportionate number of disabled workers are laid off, and the organization quickly begins recruiting to fill their vacancies.

  • Despite doing a good job, you are fired, and your spot is filled by a non-disabled employee.

Discrimination at Work with Cancer and Major Illness

A cancer diagnosis or any major illness may have a significant impact on your life. The last thing you need at this point is to lose your job due to illness. Since many people's jobs often have health care, this may have a double-whammy effect on their lives, health, and finances.

Millions of people in the United States have a history of cancer or another serious disease. Fortunately, there are rules in place to secure your work if you are diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer.

Cancer and the Right to Work

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not consider cancer to be a disease (ADA). However, if the disease or its side effects significantly limit the main life operation, you are considered disabled. Then you're protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Eating, cooking, working, sleeping, shopping, chores, and child care are all major life habits.

Even if the condition is under control or in remission due to medication or therapy, you can still be considered impaired under the ADA. Even if your condition does not prevent you from engaging in major life activities, your employer will be held liable for discrimination if they believe your illness prevents you from doing so. All employers with 15 or more workers are subject to the ADA.

Your employer is required by the ADA to:

  • You would not be discriminated against because you have a disability as a result of a major illness.

  • If you have a disability, make fair accommodations for it.

  • During the selection process, potential employers cannot inquire about your medical background.

Workplace sex or gender discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly or negatively because of their sex, gender, or gender identity. Women, men, transgender, non-binary, and gender-fluid people will all face gender and sex discrimination in the workplace. If you're a current employee or applying for a position, it can happen.

Sex discrimination, like other types of discrimination, is unlawful in all facets of the job. Interviewing, recruiting, starting wages, promotions, compensation, work assignments, unemployment, and firing are all examples of this.

Despite progress in sex and gender equality in the United States, sex and gender inequality continues to be a daily reality for millions of people.

Workplace Stereotypes and Assumptions Based on Gender

Even if they're never spoken aloud, assumptions have the power to damage your career. Stereotypes or stereotypical gender roles are at the root of a lot of genders or sex-based discrimination. It would be unethical discrimination for your boss, for example, to believe that:

  • As a woman, you lack the physical strength and technical proficiency of men.

  • Domestic obligations prevent you from traveling or working long hours.

  • You don't have the same drive for success as guys.

  • Because of your gender, you are unable to exercise authority.

  • Since you're a woman, your bosses won't listen to you.

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Laws Against Discrimination Against Women

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes sex and gender discrimination illegal in all 50 states. Title VII prohibits the employer from discriminating against you based on your gender identity or sex. Pregnancy, childbirth, and other associated conditions are included in Title VII's description of "sex." Sexual assault is also prohibited under Title VII.

Employers, state and local governments, and educational establishments with 15 or more workers are all covered by Title VII. It also refers to labor unions, job agencies, and other forms of labor-management committees. In addition to Title VII, several states have their own anti-discrimination rules.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California is one of the nation's most strong anti-discrimination laws. For all employers with 5 or more workers, the FEHA prohibits sex and gender discrimination.

There is no federal law that specifically prohibits discrimination based on gender identity – at least not in those terms. Gender identity, on the other hand, is included in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) definition of "sex" under Title VII. As a result, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone in the workplace based on their gender identity under Title VII. In all 50 states, gender identity is also a protected class. At least 20 other states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

Gender Non-Discrimination Act of California

Gender identity was recently added to the California Gender Non-Discrimination Act as a protected class. Despite the fact that California law already prohibited gender discrimination, the Gender Non-Discrimination Act clarified the language.

The gender in which you identify is your gender identity. It's possible that this isn't the gender you were given at birth. Gender expression – mannerisms, modes of dress, vocabulary, or other personal characteristics – may convey gender identity. Some people's gender identity does not always correspond to their gender speech.

Unfortunately, prejudice based on gender identity persists today. Individuals who are transgender, gender-fluid, or gender nonconforming face a high risk of discrimination and abuse. The following are some examples of workplace discrimination based on gender identity:

  • Threats or teasing about your gender or gender identity, like jokes, slurs, or threats

  • Employees who are transgender or gender nonconforming are singled out for special care.

  • Refusing to recruit someone who is transitioning from one gender to another

  • Refusing to endorse someone who uses a pronoun or name that is gender nonconforming

  • Refusing to use your proper name or pronouns when addressing you

  • When it comes to gender identity abuse, failing to intervene is a major no-no

  • Requiring employees to wear uniforms based on their gender identity is a bad idea

  • Forcing workers to use the restroom because they are of the wrong gender

  • Getting rid of an employee who dresses, grooms, or acts in a manner that isn't gender-appropriate

Sexual orientation and LGBTQ discrimination, including sex discrimination, is also a big problem in the United States. Everyone, regardless of their identity or sexual orientation, deserves an inclusive workplace free of discrimination. Statistics on LGBTQ discrimination indicate that:

  • The majority of LGBTQ workers have been harassed at work, either verbally or physically

  • Discrimination in the workplace has been recorded by up to 43% of workers

  • According to the survey, 17% of people have been shot because of their sexual orientation or gender identity

Laws Against Discrimination in the Workplace for LGBTQ

Under Title VII's definition of "sex," the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires sexual orientation. A federal appeals court recently ruled that LGBTQ workers are protected from employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court is currently considering this case as of this article.

However, there have been decades of legislation and regulations in place to protect LGBTQ employees. In addition, 22 states, including California, have their own workplace rights for LGBTQ people. About 90% of Fortune 500 businesses have anti-discrimination policies that ban sexual orientation discrimination.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people and people with a certain sexual orientation can look like the following:

  • centered on your sexual orientation, comments, jokes, or microaggressions

  • Being passed over for promotions because of your sexual orientation

  • When a manager discovers your sexual orientation, they treat you differently

  • Because of your sexual orientation, your employer refuses to provide you with compensation or insurance.

  • Your boss is failing to take action against workplace abuse and discrimination.

  • Retaliating against you or punishing you for disclosing workplace discrimination

Discrimination based on sexual preference is unconstitutional, whether it is based on a person's real or perceived orientation. If your employer discriminates against you because of your sexual orientation, you will be able to file a lawsuit even if they are mistaken.

If you've been discriminated against because of your sexual identity or LGBTQ status at work, you can meet with a California Employment Lawyer who is dedicated to defending your rights.

You may have found that your boss treated you differently after you were pregnant. Perhaps your job duties changed without warning, you started receiving competitive assignments, or you've fallen behind on promotions in comparison to your peers.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in the United States. These federal laws apply to companies of 15 or more workers, including government employers. Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and other associated medical conditions is prohibited in all 50 states. You have the freedom to apply for jobs without fear of being turned down because you are pregnant. You have the right to take fair maternity leave without fear of retaliation from your boss, such as being demoted or fired.

Your employer must also make appropriate accommodations for your pregnancy-related requirements. In addition to federal law, California state law provides even more protection.

What Is Covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act?

Pregnancy is also associated with other health problems, both before and after childbirth. The PDA also protects against these pregnancy-related health problems. The following are some of the health conditions that are protected by the pregnancy discrimination act:

  • Backache

  • Issues with breastfeeding or lactation

  • Pre-eclampsia is a condition that may cause problems weeks after delivery

  • Any illness that necessitates bed rest

  • Diabetes during pregnancy

It may be considered pregnancy discrimination if the employer fails to make fair accommodations for your pregnancy or a related illness. If you can no longer lift large items as part of your work duties, for example, your employer must find a suitable solution for you.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides for a 12-week period of unpaid family leave. In all 50 states, this rule extends to both parents. Parents-in-law are not included in the category of "parent," which includes maternal, adoptive, step, or foster parents. In 2015, the FMLA was updated to cover same-sex partners.

Your employer must guarantee your employment when you return if you take unpaid family leave under the FMLA. However, the FMLA would not apply to all workers. To be eligible for maternity leave under the FMLA, you must:

  • Working with a law-abiding employer is a good idea

  • You must have worked with your boss for a minimum of 12 months

  • You worked for more than a certain number of hours in the previous year

  • Within 75 miles, work at a place where the employer has 50 or more workers

Other restrictions apply under the statute, so consult a Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney for Workplace Discrimination to see whether you qualify.

Hire a Pre-screened California Employment Lawyer for Workplace Discrimination is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a top employment lawyer in California. You can contact us through our 24/7 Live Chat (or complete our submission form) for a Free Initial Case Review. We have the best workplace discrimination lawyers with a lot of experience who fight for fairness, justice, and equal rights at work.

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