The Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought to light workplace discrimination in the United States in the middle of the 20th century. During the Civil Rights Movement, persecuted groups such as African Americans and women began to protest their lack of rights at work.
Targeted groups often found themselves in difficult working situations and stuck in dead-end jobs without legal protections. People were often subjected to humiliating or hurtful abuse due to their skin color, gender, marital status, or other perceived shortcomings.
In the decades that followed, California has been at the forefront in protecting groups from workplace discrimination and employment law violations.
Although legal protections have greatly increased in the years since the Civil Rights Movement's chaotic period, discriminatory behavior persists in intentional, malevolent, and unintentional, ignorant ways.
The U.S. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which resolved all 90,558 discrimination charges and provided $505 million for victims of unfair treatments, was the U.S. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which settled 888 cases and provided nearly $13 million in settlements to victims, had the record year 2017.
This Guide's Purpose
This guide is intended to help both employers and employees understand the basics of anti-discrimination laws in California and the United States. This guide provides guidance for individuals and groups to recognize discrimination and pursue legal action when confronted with it.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What's Workplace Discrimination?
Chapter 2: Discrimination in the Workplace
Chapter 3: Identifying workplace discrimination
Chapter 4: Discrimination laws in California
Chapter 5: Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace
Chapter 6: Reacting to Discrimination
Chapter 7: Hiring a California Workplace Discrimination Lawyer
Chapter 1: What is Workplace Discrimination?
Workplace Discrimination: The Legal Definition
Workplace discrimination refers to the unfair or biased treatment of protected groups or classifications based on their particular characteristics. Chapter 2 provides additional classifications.
What is the best time to start discrimination against employers?
Discrimination in the workplace can occur at any stage, from the initial hiring process through termination to the final hire. In Chapter 3, we'll discuss these different stages.
Prevention of Discrimination in the Workplace
Employers should focus on prevention. Employers should ensure that all employees and leaders understand that discriminatory behavior is not tolerated. You must have the policies and infrastructure in place to handle complaints quickly and prevent them from spiraling out of control.
Employers should be familiar with workplace harassment, discrimination, and bullying. You can read the Employee Handbook as well as research all applicable federal and state employment laws. Learn about your rights and what you can do to protect them.
If you are experiencing discriminatory behavior that you consider to be discriminatory, you should follow the appropriate guidelines and seek legal guidance.
Refer to chapters six and five for more preventative and reactive efforts.
Common Misconceptions about Workplace Discrimination
Are there any grounds that could be used as a basis for a discrimination lawsuit?
All of us have had to deal with unhappy, grouchy, or otherwise unpleasant subordinates, employers, colleagues, and employees. You may have been discriminated against because you are a smoker, a cat lover, or a talkative or quiet person. However, the anti-discrimination laws may not apply if you were unfairly treated or treated harshly because of a characteristic that is covered by the law.
Can You Get Fired for Taking a Leave of Absence?
Employees may need time off from work because of health and family concerns. The time period during which the employee is off from work is known as a leave of absence. The law may prohibit an employer from terminating an employee for taking a leave of absence.
What is the average settlement for age discrimination?
From our experience, the majority of age discrimination cases settle for under $50,000. But these types of cases often have significant value because the discriminated employee may never find another job again.
I was fired! What can I do to sue my employer?
It is difficult for anyone to be fired from a job. Although you may feel that your employer treated you unfairly or was unjustifiable, you cannot prove that your termination was a retributive act.
Reverse discrimination doesn't exist!
Despite your feelings to the contrary, all citizens in the United States are protected by the law. While some groups might not be considered the most common targets of discrimination, they are still protected under anti-discrimination legislation. Individuals and groups can also sue their employers if they are treated unfairly or differently because of their legally protected classifications.
I was just having fun! This is not bullying!
Despite your belief to the contrary, the law does not allow you to. If you make insensitive comments repeatedly, even in humor, your targets may file complaints against you. Employers can take legal action against you to protect themselves from future lawsuits and ensure that other employees are comfortable. Employers can take legal action against their employees for harassment, bullying, discrimination, etc.
Can I be demoted from manager?
Technically, a California employer can demote an employee without warning or reason. However, there are exceptions. If you suspect that you were wrongfully demoted, then do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our Los Angeles employment law firm will review your case and answer your most pressing questions
Chapter 2: Discrimination in the Workplace
In the previous chapters, we have discussed legal classifications and their application to the law. But what are these classes exactly?
These are the most common forms of discrimination:
Not as well-known protections
There are however many other protected classes that are covered by federal and state laws.
Gender expression/gender reassignment
Country of Origin
Status of Immigration
Inability to accommodate
Additional Protections in California
California has added the following classes to its state law protection:
Mental health disability
Status as a victim to domestic violence, assault, stalking
Each city may have its own protected classes. For example, San Francisco has both weight and height as protected classes. If you feel you have been treated unfairly based on any of these categories, you should research the policies in your city.
Chapter 3: Identifying workplace discrimination
There are two types of discrimination cases
Two types of discrimination cases are common: Disparate Treatment or Disparate Impact.
People sometimes asked about what factors determine a hostile workplace environment? The first way to distinguish the two is to determine if they are intended and mean to harass, bully or mistreat you or if it is an unintentional policy that disproportionately impacts members of a particular classification. It is Disparate Treatment in the first case and Disparate Impact in the second.
When people think about workplace discrimination, they often consider it discriminatory treatment. It is a targeted and purposeful treatment of individuals or groups of people based on the characteristics of legally protected classes.
Here are some examples of dissimilar treatment
Refusal to accept promotions or raises
Harassment of protected characteristics
One scenario could be to relegate workers from a protected group to less desirable positions within the company.
Disparate impact discrimination is a policy that negatively affects employees who are members of a protected group, either positively or negatively.
A Disparate Example of Impact
An employer may use a test to determine if an employee is suitable for promotion. This test could disqualify foreign-born or disabled employees because of cultural or physical barriers.
This policy is considered workplace discrimination unless the test is required for the work being done.
Expanding on the Lesser-Known Workplace Discrimination
Inability To Accommodate
Companies that do not provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities, religious preferences, or who require lactation breaks often ignore this common discrimination law.
What to Know About Failing To Accommodate?
Employers must offer accommodations that allow employees to do their jobs without undue hardship.
While employers may not be required to make accommodations for employees, it is required that they engage with them to discuss their ability to complete job tasks.
Companies must make reasonable accommodations for disabled applicants to complete their initial application.
As long as reasonable accommodations are made, companies do not have to reduce performance or productivity standards. You may be entitled to other protections if you are injured on the job.
Employers are required to be careful about discrimination.
According to the EEOC Regulations Companies are not allowed to do the following:
Advertise jobs that are based on protected classes
Refuse to submit applications to persons in protected classes.
Refuse to hire based on stereotypes.
Referrals for jobs are based on protected classes.
During the hiring process, inquire about the severity and nature of your disability. After the disabled person has been hired, the employer may inquire about these items.
A company could be held responsible for its employees' actions if it fails to take preventive measures against harassment or discriminatory behavior by colleagues or employees.
Retaliation is a major problem in many companies. Retaliation can be an issue if an employee files complaints, reports to federal or state authorities, or files a discrimination suit, and is then terminated. Retaliation against an employee is illegal and should not be allowed to endanger their safety. It can be difficult to prove retaliation. This is why it is important to consult a wrongful termination lawyer. These are other signs of retaliation.
Some companies might not provide the minimum legal requirement for maternity leave. Federal law requires employers to offer up to 12 weeks of maternity leaves. California law allows pregnant mothers with disabilities to be granted up to 4 months of disability leave. They also have the right to reasonable accommodation leave for any pregnancy-related issues.
A company that punishes pregnant mothers with demotions or denies pay raises or promotions, or treats them differently, could be held liable for discrimination.
Real-Life Examples Of Workplace Discrimination
1. Ex-Ford Motor Company employees sued the manufacturer of automobiles for $17million in 2018 based on discrimination based upon his racial background. His Middle Eastern accent and background led to the engineer accusing his supervisors of unfair treatment. He claimed that his supervisors had constantly criticized and berated him for not being able to speak 'proper English' and explained how he was placed in demeaning and servile jobs despite having a Ph.D. from industrial engineering.
2. The Supreme Court case Griggs (1971) was where the plaintiff claimed that the company required excessive education requirements and I.Q. Tests to exclude African American applicants. The Supreme Court sided in favor of the plaintiff and the tests were banned.
3. A case in which the plaintiff was discriminated against because of se×-based stereotypes was heard by the Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse (1998). The Court ruled that discrimination in employment based on se× stereotypes is unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Chapter 4: Discrimination Laws: Federal Vs. California
Federal laws were first established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They were gradually expanded over time. However, states were allowed to create their own laws based on the limited protections provided by the federal government.
California was quick to take the lead in expanding Workplace Discrimination protections through the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Anti-Discrimination Laws: Purpose
To protect civil rights, anti-discrimination laws were established in the United States. Throughout the turbulent history of the United States, discriminatory practices were widespread and caused a lot of suffering and violence.
These laws were created to protect citizens' rights in all aspects of life. They cover everything from military service to employment, and they were influenced by the Civil Rights Movement. Federal laws originally covered only race, color, and religion. However, over time, they have been extended to include other protected classes.
5 Federal Anti-Workplace Discrimination Laws
1. 1964 Civil Rights Act
Employers are prohibited from discriminating based on race or color, religion, se×ual orientation, or national origin.
2. Equal Pay Act
Employers must offer equal pay for equal work to men and women.
3. Age discrimination in employment Take action
Companies are prohibited from discriminating based on the applicant's or employee's age.
4. Americans with Disabilities Act
Companies are prohibited from discriminating against persons with disabilities in any aspect of their employment processes.
5. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Law
Employers are prohibited from using an applicant's or employee's genetic information to motivate their decisions.
California State-Specific Workplace Discrimination Laws
California's primary state-specific law on workplace discrimination is the air Employment and Housing Act of 1980The combination of their Employment Act of 1959The1963 Rumford Fair Housing ActTo to establish an organization that guarantees housing rights and employment for Californians.
It has been expanding the protected classes since its inception to include the following:
Mental or medical disabilities
Veterans or Military Status
Status as a Victim or Assault of Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence, or Stalking
Gender Identity and Expression
Gender Reassignment is being done.
Comparing Federal and California Workplace Discrimination Laws
Companies are required to hire federal anti-discrimination officers. Minimum 15 employees are subject to the law
To be considered anti-discrimination law-compliant in the case of age-related discrimination, a firm must employ at least 20 people.
California's anti-discrimination laws apply to all firms with 5 or more employees. The Employment and Housing Act does not distinguish between age-related and other forms of discrimination.
Workplace Discrimination Laws Exemptions
An organization must have very specific qualifications to be exempted from the anti-discrimination laws at both the state and federal levels.
There are very few cases where a company or organization is exempted from anti-discrimination laws.
These are some of the most common exemptions:
Religiously Affiliated Organizations
Federal and state-level discrimination against religion does not apply to religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals, churches, schools, and other religious institutions. Religiously affiliated organizations are allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices based on religion.
A Catholic-based organization, for example, can only hire Catholics.
Bona Fide Qualifying for Occupational Positions
Organizations may employ discrimination if it is necessary to perform the primary duties of a job.
Firefighters, for example, must perform certain physical tasks to fulfill their duties. This may mean that applicants with less mobility might need to be screened. These qualifications must be proven by firms and organizations to exempt them from the requirements of their job.
Communist Party Affiliation
Although political affiliation protections are provided by state law, members of the Communist Party are exempt from any anti-discrimination laws in nearly every setting.
Chapter 5: Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace
Employers and employees can both combat workplace discrimination by preventing it from ever happening.
Employers can prevent this:
Set clear expectations
Employers can prevent discriminatory behavior by creating a clear and concise Employee Handbook. This document outlines the guidelines for what constitutes harassment, bullying, or discriminatory behavior. If employees are found guilty of such behavior, let them know that corrective actions will be taken immediately.
Provide Consistent Training
Effective prevention methods include training in awareness and behavior avoidance. Although hateful behavior is still very common, discriminatory behavior stems mainly from an organization's general lack of awareness and employees. To give employees the tools to correct any behaviors that could get them and the company in legal trouble, create a training program for all levels of the organization.
Offer Employees a Reporting Outlet
Your employees should be aware of all the ways they can report discriminatory, offensive, or other behavior that violates Anti-discrimination legislation. Employees will be less likely in the future to resort to legal action if they are aware that there are inter-organizational ways to make their complaints known.
Qualitative Policies Must Be Upheld
It is worth looking into policies that have been proven to reduce personal bias and discrimination. Employers can make hiring, promotions, or payment adjustments as objectively as possible by using blind appraisals of candidates whose names, personal information, and addresses are kept secret from the reviewer. This can be used to eliminate hidden biases or prejudices that could cause undue damage to the organization.
Prevention for Employees:
Learn about company policies
Employees can prevent workplace discrimination by being aware of their rights and those of others within the company. The employer should provide a solid Employee Handbook as the first step towards workplace discrimination prevention. This Handbook should be carefully reviewed by employees to ensure they are familiar with the policies of their employer.
Pay attention to how harassment, discrimination, and bullying are defined and the steps that the company offers to remedy the situation.
Each organization that falls under the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Fair Employment and Housing Act is required to display a poster detailing anti-discrimination laws and steps employees can take in reporting discrimination to the appropriate agency. Employees interested in fighting workplace discrimination in California must be familiar with the poster's location and all the information contained therein.
The EEOC, as well as the FEHA, contain extensive documentation that explains what constitutes workplace discrimination. These materials can be used by employees who are interested in behavioral prevention and discriminatory policies. They will help them understand their rights and identify problematic behavior.
Chapter 6: Responding to Discrimination
If you find that workplace treatment falls under the definition of workplace discrimination during your research, then your next steps should be taken carefully. Before you can begin the litigation process, it is important to follow the guidelines of your organization regarding reporting and handling these situations. It is possible that the case will not be reviewed by the court.
What should you do if you are discriminated against in the hiring process
Employers and organizations cannot base their hiring decisions upon characteristics that are associated with protected classes. You may be able to file a complaint against the company that didn't hire you or considers you for a job based on your class if you feel you weren't hired.
It is very difficult to prosecute and file a lawsuit against someone for hire. There is usually little evidence to support your claim. Many judges are reluctant to hire you if there isn't hard evidence such as testimony from an employee of the offending entity. To determine if your case is likely to be won, consult an employment lawyer who specializes in discrimination and harassment.
What to do if you are discriminated against while working for an employer?
Notify your employer
This is why it's important to familiarize yourself with the policies of your company. You should use any avenues provided by the company to file complaints. The company will assist you in resolving workplace discrimination that has occurred from a subordinate, superior, or colleague.
This is crucial because the EEOC has ruled that companies that aren't aware of the behavior are not legally liable. It must know that discriminatory behavior was committed by the company before you take legal action against it. If harassment occurred over many years, however, it is still possible to take legal action against the firm.
There are many ways you can notify your company of discrimination.
You can file anonymous complaints/work hotlines
To alert your company, fill out the following forms
Tell your superiors to rectify the situation
Documentation and collection of information is a must
Ensure that you have as much evidence as possible while taking the steps above.
Email correspondence, written testimony from colleagues who support you, as well as other information that supports your claims, will be helpful in any future action against the company or to the inter-organizational authorities that deal with the offending behavior.
Report behavior to the federal or state government
You can report discriminatory behavior if you've been the victim of it.
You must notify the EEOC within 45 days by contacting an EEO counselor.
You must complete an intake form for the FEHA within one calendar year.
You have 180 days to file a suit against the organization if they fail to make a decision.
Reporting a Notice of Lawsuit
If you have not made the necessary steps to notify the company about the unlawful and offensive behavior, you can file a complaint with DFEH (Department of Fair Employment and Housing), or a Right-To Sue notice if you intend to file your own lawsuit.
To be eligible for the EEOC, an interview must take place with an EEO Counselor. This will help you determine if you have a case and what steps you should take to proceed with the suit. After the interview, you can file a formal complaint to proceed with the suit.
You fill out the DFEH intake form according to the type of discrimination you have experienced. Then, send it via email or postal mail.
Can your employer force you to resign?
A firm may ask an employee to voluntarily resign rather than be formally terminated. ... However, companies cannot usually force an employee to resign. At most, a firm that wants to avoid a firing can make staying in a current job undesirable in the hopes the employee will eventually resign.
What to do if you are fired from your job?
Retaliatory termination has been reported to the EEOC as one of the most common grounds for discrimination. Retaliatory actions against you after you have filed complaints with the EEOC, DFEH, or within the organization are prohibited under the law. If you feel you were wrongfully terminated because you spoke out against discriminatory practices, immediately report it to the authorities.
You may also contact a wrongful termination lawyer to see if you have enough evidence to bring your case to court.
Chapter 7: Hiring A California Workplace Discrimination Lawyer
A lawyer with a specialization in employment law would make a significant difference in almost all cases of workplace discrimination.
It can be difficult to understand the legal process in the best of times. If you do not follow legal advice you could miss your chance to solve the problem adequately and also to receive damages for discriminatory treatment.
Step 1: Contact a lawyer who specializes in workplace discrimination
You can request a consultation if you feel you have been discriminated against at work. The lawyer can help you determine whether the situation is unlawful and give you options for how to fix it.
Many lawyers are experts in workplace discrimination.
You should look for firms that are specialized in religious, racial, and/or other protected class discrimination legislation.
Step 2: Gather evidence and present your case
You will need to present the case to a harassment or discrimination lawyer if you intend to file a lawsuit. You should bring all evidence and documentation that supports your claims so you can fully explain your situation.
If the lawyer agrees to handle your case, then let them take the lead.
Step 3: File an Administrative Charge
You can file your complaint with FDEH and EEOC. After an investigation, most likely they will give you a right to sue. After you receive the right-to-sue letter, you can file your lawsuit
Step 4: Follow the advice of your lawyer
As your workplace discrimination lawyer gathers evidence and presents the case to the court, your role is to act as a witness. Follow their recommendations and you can fight for your rights as a citizen and employee.