Find a Labor Law Attorney for Workplace Discrimination
Updated: Apr 26
Discrimination at work according to California Employment Law
According to a study of hospital workers published in the journal Race and Social Problems, being a victim of unlawful workplace discrimination based on race or ethnicity may harm mental health, causing depression or lowering self-esteem. Unlawful sex discrimination in the workplace is linked to the risk of using drugs as a coping mechanism.
Much of the research about how prejudice (the unfair treatment of individuals based on immutable attributes such as ethnicity, gender, or disability, or significant life choices such as religion) harms individual victims and society as a whole are publicly accessible. Both federal and California laws make it unlawful to discriminate in the workplace based on essential attributes and include legal recourse for redress.
Discrimination in the workplace is prohibited on the following grounds, for example:
Harassment based on protected traits, such as sexual or racial harassment, is illegal in addition to discrimination.
If the employee is otherwise eligible for the work, an employer may be required to make appropriate accommodations for a protected characteristic. For example, a workstation may be modified to accommodate a person with a physical impairment or a person whose religious expression requires such dress or grooming practices to be permitted even though it is otherwise prohibited.
According to anti-discrimination law, an employer may not retaliate against an employee who has registered or filed a case for discrimination or harassment or who has cooperated in a related investigation or litigation. Negative actions such as dismissal, assault, or demotion are examples of retaliation.
Although federal anti-discrimination laws extend to private employers with at least 15 workers, California anti-discrimination laws apply to even smaller private employers with five or more employees, and in cases of harassment, even one employee.
Since employment discrimination is such a complicated area of the law, a claimant can speak with an experienced Employment Attorney as soon as possible. This is so they can get guidance on how to communicate with the employer and to learn about their legal rights and remedies. This counsel may include filing a federal or state government complaint or filing a lawsuit. Another difficult element of anti-discrimination legislation is the relationship between federal and state governments, courts, and regulations, which necessitates following strict protocols, such as meeting deadlines and issuing notices.
Unlawful Discrimination Comes in a Variety of Forms:
Many aspects of one's personality are legally shielded. These are some of the most common types of claims handled by Los Angeles employment lawyers, although they are not exhaustive:
Discriminating against a worker because of a physical or mental disability is illegal. Short-term and long-term disabilities are also possible. Employers are required to offer appropriate accommodations to disabled workers and participate in good faith negotiations with them to decide what accommodations are required.
Staff with physical and mental disabilities are well-protected under California law. Both long-term and short-term disabilities are covered by these protections. Employers who discriminate against workers who are disabled or have a history of disability are breaking the law. Employers must also provide fair work accommodations to workers with disabilities to assist them in performing their employment.
Discrimination against disabled people can take many forms, with the following being some of the most common:
Disabled employees are terminated or demoted because of their disability
Forcing disabled employees to resign because of their disability
Requiring disabled employees to perform duties or assume roles that are in violation of their medical limitations
Refusing to give disabled employees time off to seek medical attention
Refusing to treat disabled staff in a humane way. Allowing disabled workers to change their work schedules or hours, changing disabled workers' job duties, and supplying disabled workers with special equipment or aids are all examples of reasonable accommodations.
Disabled employees who seek accommodations are being retaliated against.
Because of their disability, employers are refusing to hire eligible work applicants(s)
California law has recently been extended to include rights to non-disabled workers who need an accommodation to care for a disabled family member, in some cases.
What Conditions Are Considered "Disabilities"?
Disability is described in California's Fair Employment and Housing Act as any physical or mental disorder that restricts one or more major life activities/tasks. Unlike the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, California law does not require a "substantial" restriction on major life activities, which should make it much easier to register as disabled in California than in most other states.
Basic physical, emotional, and social habits such as walking, standing, bending, raising, performing other manual tasks, seeing, listening, communicating, reading, studying, and focusing are all considered "major life activities."
The following are some of the most common conditions that are classified as disabilities:
Broken bones, broken tendons, and back injuries are all common injuries.
Cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes.
Extreme migraine headaches, epilepsy, and nervous system disturbances are examples of neurological impairments.
Mental or psychiatric disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or clinical depression
Disabilities in vision, voice, and hearing
Some allergic reactions and respiratory problems, such as asthma, are unavoidable.
Crohn's disease and other gastrointestinal disorders
Disorders of the blood
Carpal tunnel syndrome and muscular dystrophy
An employee may be deemed disabled in such situations if he or she has a previous history of these conditions (even if he or she has recovered) or if his or her employer believes the person is disabled (even if this is incorrect).
What Are the Employer's Responsibilities When They Have Disabled Employees?
The law requires employers to make fair exceptions for the staff or work applicants who have recognized disabilities. It is unlawful for an employer to refuse to offer fair accommodations to an employee who is still capable of performing his job but requires them and then fire or threaten the employee for failing to perform.
The required fair accommodation is assessed on a case-by-case basis and is based on the type of impairment at hand as well as the type of work done by the employee.
The following is a partial list of alternative accommodations:
Employment reorganization or changes in job responsibilities
Providing flexible job schedules
Reassignment to an open job position
Allowing an employee to take a leave of absence for required medical attention or to recover
Purchase or modification of equipment or tools to assist an employee in performing his or her duties
Providing services that are open to and usable by people with disabilities
Exams, instructional materials, and procedures are being changed or updated.
Assisting in the execution of work duties that are impaired by the impairment
The Interactive Process
When an employer learns of a need for accommodation, it must engage in a "good faith interactive process" with the employee to negotiate options.
The employee and the boss are expected to have a conversation about the problems that are bothering him or her and any appropriate accommodations that could be made to remedy those issues. The employer must study and consider the employee's limitations, compare them to the employee's job or other available employment, and figure out how to work around them. An employer who either does not participate in the interactive process or participates in an inadequate process can be found in violation of the law.
Employers who discriminate against employees based on their age are breaking the law. Employees over the age of 40 are shielded from prejudice or being forced out of work because of their age.
Although age discrimination can take several forms, it most commonly involves workers in their forties and fifties being:
As a result of their age, they have been shot, laid off, and forced to resign.
Because of their age, they are passed over for promotions.
Due to their age, they can be demoted, have their pay decreased, or have their hours reduced.
Due to their age, they were offered lower wages, benefits, and/or work assignments.
Because of their age, they are unable to obtain employment.
Employer policies or activities that discriminate against them on the basis of their age
Jobs who are dismissed or mistreated by a younger boss account for the vast majority of age discrimination cases. However, this does not have to be the case, as sexist business managers and administrators may be the same age as or even older than their victims.
Causes and Statistics of Age Discrimination
People are living and working longer than ever before, and one out of every five jobs in the United States is now 55 or older. Unfortunately, this pattern has only exacerbated workplace ageism. Employers are typically motivated by prejudices or greed, rather than an actual hatred of older workers, such as a false perception that older employees will make the company seem less cutting edge, may not stay with the company long term or may need more medical expenses.
According to a new survey, 30% of people over the age of 53 experience age discrimination in some way. According to another recent survey, 64% of employees have either encountered or witnessed workplace age discrimination.
Not surprisingly, older workers are more likely to be fired, and once fired, they have a tougher time seeking new employment than their younger counterparts. It takes three months longer for someone 55 or older to find a job than it does for someone younger.
How is Discrimination Based on Age Proven?
Most employers and managers who participate in age discrimination do not accept their true motivations and instead try to justify their behavior by blaming non-age-related causes like poor employee efficiency, downsizing, staff decreases, or business reorganization. Even if there is no "smoking gun" evidence of age discrimination, victims of discrimination may often prove their cases using circumstantial or indirect evidence.
The following are some examples of actions that could be used to show age discrimination:
Discriminatory remarks about the employee's age made by the owner or boss, such as jokes about age and appearance, the employee being asked when he or she would quit, or negative remarks about the worker being late, his or her technological abilities, and so on.
An older employee is replaced by a much younger employee who has inferior or, at best comparable qualifications.
Layoffs or staff reductions are disproportionately affecting older workers.
Younger workers are given preferential treatment in terms of salaries, promotions, and working conditions, among other things.
Older workers are being denied training and other opportunities to advance within the organization, as well as being excluded from important meetings and having some of their responsibilities taken away.
A trend of mainly younger staff being recruited
Evidence of different or contradictory workplace rules and practices being enforced to workers of various ages, such as an older worker accused of a specific crime being disciplined more harshly than a younger worker accused of the same wrongdoing or an older employee receiving an undeservedly lower performance evaluation than a younger employee.
Harassment on the basis of age
The FEHA not only prohibits discrimination but also prohibits abuse based on an individual's age. When an employer establishes or encourages the presence of an abusive, offensive, or threatening work environment that negatively impacts an employee's ability to perform his or her job, this is known as age harassment.
Slurs, jokes and insulting or negative comments regarding a person's age are the most popular forms of age-based abuse. Such remarks endorse an age discrimination argument while also giving rise to a separate claim for age abuse. The business, as well as the individual harasser, can be held responsible for the harassment claim.
3. Gender and Pregnancy Discrimination
In the workplace, gender and pregnancy discrimination can take several forms, some of which are more blatant than others. In general, if or when your employer does either of the following depending on your gender, pregnancy, or the fact that you have a pregnancy-related medical condition, you might have been the target of gender or pregnancy discrimination at work:
You were not employed, despite the fact that you can perform the duties of/are eligible for the role.
You were treated unfairly in terms of pay, benefits, and/or potential promotions.
You've been treated unfairly in terms of preparation and/or work assignments.
You were demoted, laid off, or fired.
Your employer forced you to resign or fired you
You were unable to return to work after giving birth, despite the fact that you were ready to do so.
You were unable to hold your work after taking a brief leave of absence due to pregnancy-related issues.
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers based on their ethnicity, color, heritage, or national origin.
When racial discrimination occurs at work, it usually includes a job applicant or employee is treated unfairly because of his or her ethnicity, skin color/complexion, hair texture, or other race-related characteristics. Racial discrimination occurs when an employer, because of a person's race or racial feature(s),:
Refuses to recruit the person
Discriminates against him or her in terms of pay, benefits, and employment opportunities
Assignments, promotions, and/or preparation are all possibilities.
That person is demoted, laid off, or fired.
Compel the person to resign
Racial discrimination may also occur when someone is harassed because of his or her race or a racial characteristic, such as (but not limited to):
Defamatory remarks or claims
What Constitutes Discrimination in the Workplace?
An employee must prove that the employer took negative employment action against him or her and that the negative employment action was at least in part motivated by discrimination in order to successfully bring a claim for workplace discrimination. The following are examples of negative work actions:
Termination of jobs or dismissal
Being forced to give up
Unfavorable work or shift assignment
A salary cut or a reduction in benefits
Promotion or progression denial
Any other negative decision that has a major effect on job terms and conditions
Discrimination cases are proven in a variety of ways.
It is not necessary for an employee to show that prejudice was the sole motivator. If a termination or other negative job action is based on a mixture of legitimate and unlawful factors, it can still be deemed wrongful under the law.
Employers are unlikely to admit that they had any criminal motives or that the negative job behavior was motivated by discrimination. Clear and indirect proof can also be used to prove discrimination. Discriminatory comments made by the boss or supervisor are commonly used as direct proof.
Indirect proof may come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Indirect proof that is successful requires demonstrating that the employer's claimed justification for the negative job action is incorrect or illogical. For example, if an employer argues that the employee was fired due to a lack of work but then hires other workers immediately before the firing, the employee would have a strong case that prejudice played a role and that the termination was illegal.
Another effective form of indirect proof is demonstrating that there is a pattern of discrimination at work and that other coworkers with the same protected features have also been treated unfairly.
Discrimination in the Workplace: How to Prove It
In California, you can need to show evidence to prove employment discrimination, wrongful termination, or workplace retaliation.
Because of one of your protected attributes, you have been handled unfairly. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against protected categories such as age, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, and national origin. As a woman, for example, you belong to a protected class. The idea is that those in covered groups should not be treated any differently than those who are not. You are constitutionally "protected" from discrimination merely because you are a woman.
You are educated, capable, and trustworthy, and you did a good job. This isn't always easy to explain. Usually, the performance would be blamed as justification for whatever job action was taken. Employers are smart enough to recognize that in order to defend themselves from litigation, they must have sufficient criticism of your results. For a California judge and jury, a track record of being a hardworking employee goes a long way. This can be done in a variety of ways:
Understand all of your tasks in depth and be able to remember them clearly, easily, and reliably.
Make copies of previous performance evaluations that reflect the usual scores.
Make use of any and all letters of recommendation you can find—request letters of recommendation from your employers, colleagues, and consumers.
To show the consistency of your work, keep copies of everything you've done.
To demonstrate the distinction, obtain copies of other employees' jobs.
Chat with coworkers who might have overheard or observed workplace prejudice if the boss has made overtly racist remarks. In California discrimination cases, witness evidence can be very persuasive.
Your career has been harmed by discrimination.
An adverse employment decision was taken against you, notwithstanding your qualifications for the job. This can include things like:
You've been fired or demoted.
You were given a poor performance review.
You were not given a raise.
I didn't get a bonus.
Were reassigned to a lower-level role
The adverse work action taken against you should be able to prove these:
Decisions on the job were not made objectively. Obtain a copy of the company's policy manual, which outlines performance reviews and criticism. You should prove that the criteria used to judge you were inconsistent with company policy.
Establish objective, time-bound, observable, and practical proof of your good job performance. Demonstrate, if applicable, that previous appraisals or appraisals of other employees met these requirements but not yours. Try to find inconsistencies in your supervisors' claims. In California discrimination cases, pointing out as many inconsistencies as possible is beneficial:
Did they blame you for bad communication when you had already received praise for it?
Did they praise you for your technical abilities in one period and then blame you for lack of technical abilities in the same or a similar period?
Did they notice a rapid decline in your job performance?
At work, there is a trend of unequal treatment. As much as possible, compare your work, actions, and treatment to others in your protected class. Demonstrate that those with similar credentials have been given better jobs, more favorable projects, and better care.
Mention that while your male coworkers are regularly granted promotions, your female coworkers with the same skill level are never given the opportunity if you are a woman experiencing gender discrimination at work.
If you were wrongfully dismissed as an African American employee for being late on one occasion, but your white coworker is always late and receives no consequences, you might have proof of racial discrimination.
Openly disapprove of the discriminatory acts and retaliation. Rebut your racial discrimination at work. Make it clear that you oppose the discriminatory action and its deceptive rationale. If you suspect your superior is reporting and criticizing you as a result of prejudice, make a note of it and write him or her a letter.
Create a list of all the successes and reasons for potential the adverse job action. Make a complaint to the Human Resources department and/or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about your employer (EEOC). Request that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) perform a formal workplace discrimination inquiry. Rebut all unjust work conduct taken against you on a regular basis, and get it on the record. This will come in handy if you do have to go to court.
Your spot was filled by someone less qualified than you. This is another difficult point to prove in discrimination cases involving unfair termination, especially in legally savvy businesses. However, several firms have found that through discriminating against one protected class and then replacing a worker who was wrongfully dismissed with another member of the same protected class, they can bypass the legal framework. It could be necessary to substitute other facts if the organization downsizes or restructures and does not fill the vacancy.
In addition to these problems, your employment discrimination lawsuit can require you to prove additional evidence, which our pre-screened Los Angeles discrimination lawyers will assist you in obtaining the damages you are entitled to.
Discrimination comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Discrimination may take the form of "discriminatory treatment" or "discriminatory effect," which means that an employee is treated differently because they belong to a protected class.
Employer acts, such as promotion and firing, that single out an employee because of a protected feature, such as only older employees being laid off or only males being promoted, are known as "disparate treatment."
Employer policies that have a disproportionately negative impact on a protected trait category are known as "disparate impact." For example, a corporate policy that counts all absences and leaves toward seniority has a disproportionately negative impact on women that need to take time off for pregnancy.
And there's "harassment," which includes slurs, touching, unwelcome advances, coercion, and other forms of harassment based on an employee's protected characteristic.
Harassment may take the form of "hostile work environment" harassment, which refers to bullying behavior that is so extreme or persistent that it produces a hostile or offensive work environment.
In the case of sexual harassment, harassment may be "quid pro quo," which refers to a situation in which the employee's supervisor has conditional job benefits, such as a promotion or continuation of employment, on the employee accepting the supervisor's sexual advances or conduct, e.g., a supervisor forcing a subordinate to sleep with him in order to keep her job.
If the harasser is the employee's boss, the employer would be kept fully responsible for the boss's actions. However, if the harasser is a coworker, the employer can only be held responsible if a supervisor knew or should have known about the abuse and failed to take prompt and effective disciplinary action.
State vs. federal laws
The age discrimination in Jobs Act, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act are all more favorable to workers than California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. FEHA lacks harm limits, restricted attorney fee requirements, restrictive legal burdens of evidence, and special employer defenses.
Furthermore, federal law usually requires the employee to file an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discrimination violation. In contrast, California's Fair Employment and Housing Act allow the employee one year to file a charge with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
In a discrimination lawsuit, what will you get?
Economic Damages. If you win your case at trial, you will be paid monetary damages. To put it another way, you will get the wages you would have received if you hadn't been discriminated against. For example, if you were making $100,000 a year and were fired unfairly because of your age, race, or gender, you would regain the amount of money you would have gained if you hadn't been fired.
Damages for Emotional Distress. These are the "pain and suffering" caused by discrimination. Anxiety, depression, insecurity, and emotional suffering are all covered by ED damages. For example, in a religious discrimination situation, the employee might be compensated for weight loss, insomnia, diarrhea, weeping spells, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life. The legislation attempts to compensate for both past and potential emotional distress.
Punitive Damages. Punitive damages are intended to compensate a company for irresponsible behavior. These damages are uncommon and are capped by U.S. Supreme Court decisions. You must prove that the employer acted with coercion, deceit, or intent in order to win punitive damages. This is a particularly difficult quality to achieve.
Fees for Attorneys. The ability to recover your employment attorney's fees in addition to your other damages is one of the most powerful features of FEHA discrimination cases. California's legislature decided to incentivize employment attorneys to have a check on employment discrimination because many discrimination cases had limited economic and emotional distress damages.
Wrongful Termination Damages
If an employee wins a wrongful termination case, he or she will be compensated for emotional distress, missed payments, and punitive damages.
In wrongful termination cases, emotional distress awards are an effort by the law to compensate you for the pain and suffering caused by the termination. This is a subjective and incomplete method. In general, it entails remuneration for anxiety, depression, unpredictability, discomfort, and mental anguish.
In a sexual assault situation, for example, the employee might be compensated for headaches, vomiting, weight loss, insomnia, diarrhea, grinding teeth, crying spells, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life. These "psychic" wounds don't have to last a lifetime. The legislation is designed to compensate for both past and potential emotional distress.
Your salary or hourly wage, as well as any lost employee benefits (bonuses, vacation benefits, contributions, and other miscellaneous benefits) or the equal amount of those benefits, are all considered lost wages.
Punitive awards are exceptionally uncommon in wrongful termination cases (only occurring in 7-10 percent of verdicts). Punitive damages are intended to punish the criminal while also deterring others from engaging in similar conduct. You must prove that the employer acted with coercion, deceit, or intent in order to obtain those damages. Not only that, but you must satisfy a strong and compelling standard of proof to demonstrate that the employer behaved in this manner. This is much more difficult than most people know.
Attorney's costs are not recoverable in a wrongful termination lawsuit. If your labor lawyer also makes a lawsuit on which attorney's fees are recoverable, you will be able to recover attorney's fees. Attorney's fees are also recoverable in unfair termination cases that conflict with discrimination and abuse claims.
Deadline for Filing Unlawful Termination Claims
The two-year statute of limitations in the California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1 applies to cases of wrongful termination. This cause of action arises at the time of dismissal—that is, when the employee was fired, not when he or she was informed of the termination. In certain employment cases, however, there are multiple causes of action, each with its own statute of limitations. As a result, it is not a good idea to wait too long before contacting an employment attorney.
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