Employees have a right to be free from discrimination in a workplace. There are strong laws in place in California and on a federal level to protect employees and potential employees from discrimination.What is Employment Discrimination?
Discrimination in the employment context is any unlawful employment practice that leads to an employee or even a job applicant receiving unjust or prejudicial treatment because of a certain characteristic or trait.
Under the California Fair Employment Housing Act (Section 12940 of the California Government Code), it is an unlawful employment practice for any employer to refuse to hire or employ a person, refuse to select a person for a training program, discharge a person from employment or a training program, or discriminate against a person based in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
This code section lists the following as illegal reasons to discriminate against anyone:
- national origin
- mental disability
- physical disability
- genetic information
- medical condition
- marital status
- gender identity
- gender expression
- sexual orientation
- military or veteran status
Some examples of workplace discrimination that we have handled include:
- An employee is sexually harassed (discrimination based on sex)
- An employee is constantly made fun of for their age (age discrimination)
- An employee is terminated for being in a same sex marriage (marital status discrimination)
- An employee is terminated for religious beliefs (religious discrimination)
- An employee is harassed constantly based on gender identity (gender identity harassment)
- A female employee is paid less than a male employee (sex discrimination)
An employer has a duty to stop any type of discrimination from occurring in their workplace. They must take reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination from occurring or they can be held responsible in a civil action. In many cases that we handle, an employer learns of the discrimination that has been occurring but does little to prevent it or makes matters worse by taking actions that also discriminate against the employee.Damages Recoverable in a Discrimination Case
There are strong laws favoring employees who have been discriminated against. An employer can be held responsible for backpay to the employee depending on the type of case. They can also be required to pay damages resulting from the illegal actions in terminating an employee or failing to pay an employee equally. Attorneys’ fees and costs of filing a civil action can also be recovered in certain discrimination cases. Reinstatement if an employee lost their job could be requested.
Pain and suffering can be claimed in cases that are severe enough to have caused these injuries to a person. Also, punitive damages can also be pursued if an employee can show that the defendant’s actions amounted to oppression, fraud, or malice.Retaliation for Filing a Discrimination Case
It is important to remember that an employer cannot take any adverse employment actions against an employee as a result of their filing a discrimination case or for reporting discrimination in the workplace. Basically, the employee is absolutely protected by the law for speaking out against what is happening.
If an employer takes actions minimizing the employee’s work duties, fails to provide them with work to do, or even takes passive aggressive actions against the employee after a complaint was made it could lead to a retaliation claim being filed. If the employee is forced to quit or is terminated a wrongful termination or constructive discharge claim could also be made against the employer.Contact a San Diego Workplace Discrimination Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you have been discriminated against at a workplace, contact us at (619) 377-4660 to discuss your case. We offer free consultations to employment clients and there is never a fee unless we recover money for you.