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California Workplace Discrimination Lawyers

Discrimination in the workplace impacts job access, promotions, and can create a hostile work environment. California's strict employment laws ensure fair treatment and protect against hostile or discriminatory acts in the workplace.

California Work Discrimination Comes in Many Forms

Workplace discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently because of a protected characteristic. Workplace discrimination takes many forms, both explicit and more subtle, all negatively affecting the victim’s professional and personal life. Generally, discrimination means less favorable workplace conditions based on an employee’s membership in one or more of the protected groups listed below. California law provides some of the strongest workplace protections in the nation, but it takes an experienced attorney to help you fight for your rights.

These are various types of discrimination that are prohibited by the law:

If you have been fired, denied a promotion, or reassigned to different job duties because of your age, you may be a victim of age discrimination under the federal and state laws that protect the rights of employees aged 40 and above.

Although older employees can be a valuable asset in the workplace by offering greater insight and expertise, they are often illegally discriminated against due to misconceptions about the relationship between their age and employment.

Employers may discriminate based on the false assumption that older employees would cost the employer more in medical expenses, cost more in wages due to their experience, or be less diligent workers. Consequently, under the guise of reasons unrelated to age – such as corporate restructuring or downsizing – employers may justify unfavorable treatment toward older employees. If you feel your employer is discriminating against you on the basis of your age, a discrimination lawyer may be able to help you file a claim against your company.

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Federal and California laws prohibit employers from discriminating against persons with disabilities. A disability can be both mental or physical. Disability discrimination in the workplace can be based on an actual or perceived disability, as well as a disability that had been suffered at an earlier time. Additionally, employees or applicants who are related to a person with a disability are protected by these laws.

An employer is forbidden from treating an employee or applicant unfairly because of an actual or perceived disability, or a disability they suffered in the past, or because the employee needs to provide care for a person suffering from a disability, in any facet of employment, including but not limited to: hiring, firing, promotions, pay, layoff, and training.

Unless providing reasonable accommodation to an employee or applicant with a disability would cause the employer undue hardship, the employer is required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to the employee or applicant. In addition, an employer has an obligation to engage in an interactive process with an employee to determine what type of accommodations can be made.

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In California, employees are protected against gender discrimination by both federal and state laws, notably the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, covering various employment aspects such as hiring, promotions, and working conditions. They also prohibit harassment, ensure equal pay for equal work, and protect against retaliation for reporting discrimination.

Employees who experience gender discrimination can seek enforcement and remedies through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at the federal level or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) at the state level. Remedies can include reinstatement, compensation, and damages. California’s laws offer broader protections and lower thresholds for what constitutes discrimination, emphasizing the state’s commitment to a discrimination-free workplace.

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The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act is a California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture and is the first legislation passed at the state level in the United States to prohibit such discrimination.

While all women experience pressure to conform to certain standards of appearance, society’s bias has resulted in unfair judgment and discrimination against Black women based on hair texture and protective hairstyles, including braids, locs, and twists, that are inherent to their race. This means, Black women can be denied opportunities for employment or professional advancement without consequence.

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Discrimination in the workplace can occur before a hire is even made. The laws barring workplace discrimination also cover the employment process, including the pre-employment phase. Employers might not be aware of these laws or may knowingly conduct illegal and discriminatory hiring and recruiting processes.

This includes conduct or decisions made at the hiring stage. A failure to hire claim is a potential employee’s allegation that the employer would have hired him or her but for its reliance on one of the protected categories or other conduct in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

An employer who acts improperly based on any of the protected categories below may be subjected to a failure to hire discrimination claim:

Race/Color, Religion, Sex/Gender, Pregnancy, Nationality, Age, Physical or Mental Disabilities, Military Service, Bankruptcy or Association with a Bankrupt Debtor, Immigration Status, or Genetic Information.

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Employers are not allowed to discriminate against job applicants or employees because the applicants or employees are, for example, straight or cisgender (someone whose gender identity corresponds with the sex assigned at birth). Title VII prohibits harassment and other forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Employers also are not allowed to segregate employees based on actual or perceived customer preferences. (For example, it would be discriminatory to keep LGBTQ+ employees out of public-facing positions, or to direct these employees toward certain stores or geographic areas.)

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Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee differently because they are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or have recently given birth. This can include denial of a promotion of job opportunity due to pregnancy-related concerns, being pressured to take leave before it is medically necessary, unwanted questions from your boss about your pregnancy plans or childcare arrangements, unreasonable work restrictions, or termination or demotion based on your pregnancy.

California law protects employees from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. This includes the right to reasonable accommodations to help you perform your job safely while pregnant, such as modified break schedules or temporary changes in duties. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits sex discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, pay and other employment benefits.

Pregnancy discrimination can be a complex legal issue. A qualified workplace discrimination lawyer can be your advocate.

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If you are treated unfairly because your skin color or race, this is a form of race discrimination. In addition, you can claim race discrimination if you are treated unfairly because you are married to or associated with someone of a certain race or color.

Race discrimination includes discriminating against an employee or job applicant based on: racial stereotypes, physical characteristics, culture, national origin, ancestry, birthplace, language, and even surname. Color discrimination is discriminating against an employee or applicant on the basis of his or her skin color; therefore, a discrimination claim can be based on the color of an employee’s skin rather than race, even if the alleged harasser is of the same race.

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Discrimination against those that are overweight may lead to a lawsuit based on disability discrimination or weight discrimination. The rights of those covered under this law also qualify under additional laws for equality and fair employment in California and other states. Termination of employment based on weight bias is illegal.

Workplaces are required to make reasonable accommodations for those that necessitate assistance with the usual work duties due to an actual disability, perception of a disability or history of a disability. Making such accommodations may avoid potential lawsuits, as well as by avoiding discrimination based on a person’s disability.

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More than one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias, and more than three-fourths have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. Refusal to hire, privacy violations, harassment, and even physical and sexual violence on the job are common occurrences, and are experienced at even higher rates by transgender people of color. Many people report changing jobs to avoid discrimination or the risk of discrimination.

This employment discrimination is illegal in California. California law protects employees from discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. This means transgender employees have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work, and to be judged based on their skills and qualifications, not their gender identity. A qualified workplace discrimination lawyer can help assess the details of your situation and determine if you have a valid discrimination claim based on your gender identity.

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Our Approach

Our Practices are Guided by Integrity. We’ll protect what you deserve.

We work tirelessly and fight tenaciously to hold rights abusers accountable.

If you’ve experienced a distressing incident related to an issue like this, call us for a free case evaluation.

Did You Know?

LGBTQ+ Discrimination
An employer covered by Title VII is not allowed to fire, refuse to hire, or take assignments away from someone (or discriminate in any other way) because customers or clients would prefer to work with people who have a different sexual orientation or gender identity.
Gender or Sex Discrimination
California is the first state in the nation to recognize nonbinary as an accepted gender class.
Disability Discrimination
Federal and California laws prohibit employers from discriminating against persons with disabilities. A disability can be both mental or physical.

Is It Illegal, or Just Unfair?

Legal cases can be lengthy, complicated, and confusing, but you don’t have to take on the system all by yourself. If you believe someone has violated your individual rights, or the rights of a large group of people in your community, we can help you find the right course of action.

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