Discrimination becomes illegal in the workplace when an employer refuses to hire, demotes, fires, or otherwise mistreats a worker because of his or her race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, medical condition, or other protected category under federal or California law.
In California, employment discrimination is regulated on the federal level by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and on the state level by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The DFEH regulates the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which applies to both public and private employers with five or more employees. Most of the federal discrimination laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees.
All employers, no matter how large or small, must comply with the regulations pertaining to equal pay for men and women. The federal laws pertaining to age discrimination apply to employers with 20 or more employees.
Laws Protecting Employees Against Workplace Discrimination
Certain state and federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, or disability. Some of these laws include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) protects employees against employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. This law applies to all phases of employment, including hiring, determining promotions and raises, granting transfers and assignments, and making decisions regarding discipline and termination.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects a qualified individual who has a disability from discrimination so long as he or she can perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees who are at least 40 years old from age-based job discrimination.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA requires employers to treat pregnancy the same as they would any other medical condition in terms of their leave policies, health insurance, etc.
In addition to these laws, courts have recognized other causes of action for discriminatory workplace behavior.
Examples of Workplace Discrimination
Workplace discrimination happens much more often than one would think and can manifest itself in several ways, including, but not limited to:
- Failing to hire a person
- Demoting an employee
- Denying an employee’s promotion or advancement
- Reducing an employee’s pay
- Reducing benefits
- Forcing an employee to quit
- Transferring an employee to an unfavorable job assignment
- Terminating or firing an employee
An employee has a viable claim against their employer for job discrimination if their employer took any of the above actions against them and those actions were motivated in whole or in part by discrimination.
Experienced California Employment Discrimination Attorneys
If you believe your employer unlawfully discriminated against you in the workplace, contact Glick Law Group for a free consultation. Our law firm has extensive experience successfully representing clients throughout California in employment discrimination cases.