Several federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of their membership in a protected class. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides similar protections while adding classes of protected employees that federal laws do not cover. California and federal laws protect workers from discrimination, which can come in the form of an employer’s adverse decision (such as a wrongful termination, demotion, or a failure to hire) or simple harassment. A skilled California lawyer can help you understand whether you are the victim of illegal employment discrimination and, if so, what remedies are available.
The Haeggquist and Eck Firm helps victims recover appropriate remedies for discrimination, including reinstatement, back pay, and other compensation from their Orange County office. If you believe you were the victim of employment discrimination in California, contact our lawyers to obtain a free evaluation of your case.
“Classes” Protected By Employment Discrimination Lawyers
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employee discrimination based on any of the following characteristics:
- Race or color
- National origin or ancestry (which may include speaking with an accent)
- Religion (including reasonably accommodating an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause difficulty or expense for the employer)
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal to discriminate against job applicants or employees on the ground that they belong to a class of people who are age 40 or older. In addition, the law prohibits employers in California from applying mandatory retirement policies to most employees.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual on account of that individual’s disability. A qualified individual is someone who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, is capable of performing required job duties.
The ADA defines a disability as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or a record of having such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. Examples of major life activities include seeing, hearing, walking, standing, breathing, sleeping, learning, thinking, and communicating. Major life activities also include major bodily functions, including (for example) the immune system and reproductive functions.
The ADA requires California employers to grant reasonable accommodations to employees who request them. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that will enable the employee to perform essential job functions and to enjoy the same rights and privileges as non-disabled employees. An accommodation is not reasonable if it would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Your discrimination lawyer can advise you whether a California court would likely consider your proposed accommodation (or the employer’s suggested alternative) to be reasonable.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to make clear that it covers discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. It is therefore illegal to fire an employee or to treat her differently simply because she became pregnant or because she is lactating. Related California laws require employers to accommodate a woman’s request for reasonable time in which she can express her breast milk in a private place.
The failure to accommodate a reasonable request for a temporary change of job duties during a pregnancy (such as relieving the employee from a requirement to do heavy lifting) can also be discriminatory if the employer routinely accommodates similar requests made by injured or disabled employees.
Immigration and Nationality Act
The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits California employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants who are eligible to work on the ground of their citizenship status.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits employers from basing hiring decisions on past, present or future military service.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits California employers from taking genetic information into account when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions.
California’s FEHA includes (and in some cases expands) the protected classes identified above and adds the following classes:
- Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression
- Marital status
- Medical condition
If you are not certain whether you fit within one of the protected classes identified above, contact our Orange County discrimination lawyers for an evaluation of your situation.
Acts of Discrimination in the Workplace
Laws that prohibit these acts generally forbid an employer from considering an employee’s or job applicant’s membership in a protected class when making decisions about
- compensation, and
- other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
The broad phrase “terms, conditions, and privileges of employment” might encompass such diverse acts as giving one employee more break time than another, giving one employee easier or less dangerous duties than another, transferring an employee to a less desirable location, or assigning an employee to a less desirable shift. California breaks and lunches must also be taken into consideration for an employer who must meet State and Federal laws.
Acts Considered To Be Harassment
Harassment at work is considered a condition of employment if the employee is forced to submit to it in order to continue working and if the harassment is either:
- so pervasive that it creates an offensive, abusive, or hostile work environment,
- engaged in, directed, or condoned by the employee’s immediate supervisor (and, in some instances, other supervisors), or
- engaged in, directed, or condoned by company executives who have the power to make management decisions.
To constitute an offense, the harassment must be based on membership in a protected class. Sexual and racial harassment, as well as harassment based on national origin, are the most common forms of discriminatory harassment in California.
Not all acts of harassment create a hostile work environment. As a general rule, the more often unwelcome harassment occurs and the more severe it is, the more likely it is that a court will regard the work environment as hostile. Contact our OC discrimination lawyers today to find out if you have a claim and what you need to do to preserve your right to bring a claim for harassment against your employer.
Acts Considered To Be Retaliation
Filing a claim, complaining to an employer, or supporting another employee’s claim (for example, by answering an investigator’s questions truthfully) are protected acts. Employees who experience retaliation for engaging in a protected act are entitled to a remedy. Our Irvine lawyers can help you. Call our office to receive the help you deserve.
We’re Here To help
If you or someone you know has been discriminated against in the workplace, speaking with our employment lawyers would provide you with several tools to help evaluate your situation and determine what options are available to obtain compensation for the damages you’ve been forced to sustain. Call 949-724-9200 to reach our employment discrimination attorneys who have helped obtain more than $200,000,000 for victims throughout the state of California.