Both federal and state laws protect employees in California from discrimination in employment. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee based on the employee’s race, color, national origin, sex/gender, religion, pregnancy, age, or disability. California law also prohibits additional discrimination bases, such as marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Employers may not terminate employees, demote them, lay them off, or deny advancement or other privileges of employment based on any of the above-protected classes.
At JML Law, our discrimination attorneys represent employees in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Francisco, and throughout California who have suffered unlawful discrimination on the job and bring discrimination claims on behalf of employees.
To prevail in a job discrimination action, the employee must show that the employer took an adverse employment action against the employee and that the adverse employment action was motivated by discrimination. Types of adverse employment actions include:
Not all discrimination claims are as clear-cut, and it is often challenging to prove that an adverse job action is discriminatory because employers rarely admit they acted with a discriminatory motive. An employee must do more than show that an employer’s decision is unfair or wrong — employees must have evidence that the action was motivated by discriminatory bias. Evidence of discrimination can typically be found in biased remarks by supervisors and co-workers or hiring practices, such as when employees of one ethnicity are systematically replaced with people of another nationality. Workplace statistics can also indicate discrimination by showing that specific policies or practices disparate impact particular groups.
Discrimination law needs to be more understood. Like most states, California presumes that employment relationships are “at-will,” meaning that employees can be terminated at any time for any lawful reason. However, even with the at-will presumption, employers cannot fire employees for unlawful reasons.
Again, workplace discrimination comes in many forms. This can sometimes make it difficult for a victim to even fully realize if they are being treated in a discriminatory manner.
Some find it easier to understand whether an action, behavior, or policy qualifies as an example of workplace discrimination by separating discrimination into two categories: disparate treatment and disparate impact.
Disparate treatment is the less subtle of the two forms of discrimination. This is because actions or behaviors that qualify as examples of discrimination in its disparate treatment form are often intentional.
As the name implies, disparate treatment involves employers treating certain employees differently based on their membership in a protected class or group. Examples of this form of discrimination include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following:
Disparate treatment may also involve behaviors that create a hostile workplace environment for an employee. Examples include:
Again, discrimination that falls under disparate treatment is often intentional. However, it’s essential to understand that discrimination can occur in the workplace even when an employer doesn’t actively mean to discriminate. If a policy hurts members of a specific group, it may represent the disparate impact of workplace discrimination.
Our current understanding of discrimination in the form of disparate impact has its roots in the Supreme Court case Griggs v. Duke Power Co.
This case involved what may have been unintentional discrimination against Black employees at Duke Power’s Dan River Steam Station in North Carolina during the 1950s. During this time, Black employees tended only to find work in the company’s Labor department. This put them at a financial disadvantage, as the lowest-paying jobs in any other department still paid more than the highest-paying jobs in the Labor department.
Black employees were forced to work almost exclusively in the Labor department because the company had established such policies as requiring employees to show they had a high school diploma to work in any other department. Historically, this was a time when it was not uncommon for Black employees at the company not to have high school diplomas.
The Supreme Court eventually decided that not possessing a high school diploma did not render someone unable to fill certain roles in departments outside of the company’s Labor department. Thus, even if the policy of requiring high school diplomas to work outside of the Labor Department was not designed to be discriminatory because it did not serve a legitimate business purpose but did result in a disparate impact on certain employees, it qualified as an example of discrimination.
Your employer may have such policies. If you think you or other protected class members have been unfairly affected by company policies, review your case with a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer.
There are strict deadlines for pursuing discrimination claims. In California, employees have one year from the discriminatory act to file with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). If you think you may be a victim of discrimination, please contact our discrimination attorneys at JML Law for a free case evaluation.
Call JML Law at 818-610-8800 or email us to schedule a meeting with an employment law attorney. We handle all cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t pay attorneys’ fees if we don’t obtain a favorable settlement or verdict in your case.
Every case is unique and needs to be evaluated by our experienced lawyers. If you have been injured in a work-related accident.