WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION DEFINED: HAVE I BEEN THE VICTIM OF WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION?
Workplace discrimination occurs when employers discriminate against employees on the basis of their personal attributes, characteristics and/or beliefs. While discrimination in the workplace can take various forms – some more overt than others – the most common forms include discrimination on the basis of:
- Age – Treating employees differently, failing to hire applicants, and/or denying certain employees benefits or promotions because of their age is illegal. In particular, anti-age discrimination laws provide specific protections for workers who are 40 and over.
- Disability – California employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers with physical and/or mental impairments, regardless of whether these disabilities are temporary or permanent. Additionally, the law requires California employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. Failing to provide such reasonable accommodations is also illegal.
- Gender – California law also protects workers against gender discrimination, meaning that employers cannot subject workers to different or unfair treatment based on their gender.
- Pregnancy – Employers are not legally allowed to fire, demote, or lay off workers solely due to their state of pregnancy. Also, the law prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who have recently given birth.
- Medical Leave – It’s against the law for employers to penalize workers who take medical leave according to the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This means employers are not legally permitted to fire, demote or treat workers differently for exercising their FMLA rights.
- Race or Color – Treating workers differently based on their racial background, ethnicity and/or skin color is also a form of workplace discrimination. Racial discrimination can also include unfavorable treatment based on race-related features or characteristics (like facial features or hair texture) or based on an employee being married to (or in a relationship with) someone of a different race.
- Religion – Employers are prohibited from unfavorably treating workers due to their religious beliefs, as well as their moral and ethical beliefs. The law also makes it illegal for employers to segregate workers because of their religion and to deny workers reasonable accommodations so they can practice their religion (like providing a day off for a religious observance).
Additionally, when employers staff at least five employees, California law prohibits these employers from discriminating against their workers on the basis of their:
- Sexual orientation and/or marital status
- Political and/or military affiliations
- History of being a victim of violence
FEDERAL & STATE WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION LAWS AT A GLANCE
Various U.S. laws prohibit workplace discrimination, including (but not limited to):
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Equal Pay Act
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Americas with Disabilities Act
While California employers are required to abide by these laws, California’s workplace discrimination law – the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – is generally stricter for employers, offering workers greater protections. In fact, unlike federal law, the FEHA does not have:
- Special employer defenses
- Restrictive burdens of proof
- Limited attorney fee provisions
- Damage caps.
WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION: MORE IMPORTANT INFO
When it comes to workplace discrimination, the laws, and workers’ rights, it’s also important to understand the following:
- Workplace discrimination can occur at any phase of the employment process – In other words, you don’t necessarily have to be an employee in order to be the target of an employer’s discriminatory practices. That’s because workplace discrimination can occur during the recruitment, interview and hiring process.
- There are various remedies available for victims of workplace discrimination – These can include (and may not be limited to) back pay, damages for emotional distress, rehiring/reinstatement and/or changes to an employer’s policies and practices.
- There are strict time limits for pursuing workplace discrimination claims in California – These limits can vary (depending on the nature of the case and claims). The bottom line here is that it’s best to avoid putting off your potential claim for too long so you don’t risk losing your rights to seek justice in civil court.
- Workplace discrimination laws are regularly changing – While existing laws are commonly revised and updated, new discrimination laws may also be passed, potentially altering workers’ rights and employers’ obligations. This highlights the importance of meeting with an experienced lawyer whenever you may have been subjected to workplace discrimination.
HOW A LOS ANGELES DISCRIMINATION LAWYER CAN HELP YOU
When workplace discrimination happens, a lawyer can be essential to understanding the law and taking the right steps to defending and protecting your rights to justice. Just some of the things an experienced discrimination attorney can do to help you as you move forward to file a claim include (and are by no means exclusive to):
- Identifying all available legal remedies
- Investigating your claim and gathering all necessary evidence to support it
- Filing the necessary documents to initiate your case and keep it moving forward
- Standing up to any opponent on your behalf – at every stage of your case
- Working tenaciously to help you bring your claim to the best possible resolution.
START PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS NOW
Call (310) 216-0900 or email our firm using the contact form on this page to speak directly with Attorney James Urbanic and get clear, straightforward answers about your rights, your potential case, and your various options for justice.