Discrimination is the unfair treatment of an employee based on his or her position in a protected class. In other words, it is the act of treating an individual unfairly because of his or her race, sex, or another inherent characteristic that has no bearing on his or her ability to perform the job. There are various federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace.
Discrimination can take many forms, including:
- Passing over an individual in the hiring or promotion decision process;
- Wrongfully terminating an employee;
- Harassing the employee or allowing him or her to be a continued harassment target;
- Holding different workplace expectations for different groups of employees, such as different dress code standards, disparate disciplinary actions, and different expectations regarding work outside the scope of their jobs, such as cleaning up the office;
- Segregating employees into different departments or company branches; and
- Keeping certain employees from advancement opportunities like special training sessions and workshops.
A discrimination victim can suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically, and financially. When an individual faces damages because of workplace discrimination, he or she may seek compensation through a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Through a discrimination claim, an employee can recover lost wages, compensation for his or her emotional distress and any resulting medical bills, and his or her court and lawyer fees.
Federal Protected Classes
Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against job applicants and current employees based on the following:
- Disability status;
- National origin;
- Genetic information;
- Citizenship status; and
- Age, if the employee is 40 or older.
Certain specific types of discrimination fall under these categories. For example, pregnancy discrimination is considered to be a form of sex discrimination, and discrimination based on ethnicity can fall under racial, religious, or national origin discrimination depending on the circumstances of an individual case.
California Protected Classes
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees in additional protected classes. These classes include:
- Marital status;
- HIV/AIDS status;
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender expression;
- Military or veteran status;
- Medical condition; and
- Status as a survivor of battery or domestic violence.
Under FEHA, employers also cannot retaliate against employees for filing discrimination claims or aiding coworkers with their claims by providing testimony or other support.
Work With an Experienced California Employment Lawyer
When you face discrimination in the workplace, you have the right to work with an experienced employment lawyer to pursue justice for yourself and compensation for your related financial damages. It is important to remember that in many ways, California’s employee protections exceed federal protections, so do not assume that you do not have a case if your experience does not match examples that cite federal law. To learn more, schedule your initial consultation with Valiant Law today.