About Workplace Discrimination in California

If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace in California, you may have questions about your rights and options. If so, you are not alone. Read on to discover the information you will need to file your workplace discrimination claim.

Protected Classes

Federal and state law prohibit California employers from discriminating against employees based on a variety of different “protected classes” or characteristics. Federally, it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, citizenship status, and genetic information. In California, the same protected classes apply in addition to several others — marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, AIDS/HIV, medical conditions, political activities, military status, and status as a victim of domestic violence. Some cities have even more classes protected.

Sometimes the Rules Do Not Apply

Not every employer in California is subject to workplace discrimination rules. Under federal law, federal anti discrimination statutes only apply to California employers with 15 or more employees. State rules, however, do apply to some smaller businesses; the California state law covers employers with five to fourteen employees, as well.

It is Not Just Hiring and Firing

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms other than hiring and firing decisions. Decisions whether to promote or demote, changing work duties, and harassment in the workplace are just some of the other ways discrimination in the workplace can manifest. That is why it is important to consult with an attorney with experience in workplace discrimination claims.

You are Protected Against Retaliation

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for doing something legally protected, in this context, filing a complaint for workplace discrimination. Federal law prohibits retaliation for filing these complaints, and you can complain if your rights are not respected. Changes that have an adverse effect on your employment after filing a complaint may be retaliatory in nature.

The Importance of Keeping Records

Keeping accurate records of interactions and actions taken by your employer is one of the best ways to prepare your case for workplace discrimination. Keep careful records citing when, where, and who was involved, and keep them someplace safe. The best place to keep these records is on your personal devices and in paper copies somewhere away from the workplace.

You Can Not Sue Right Away

The first thing that must happen for your claim to succeed is that you must file a complaint with an administrative agency, the state agency, called the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or the federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Only if your case is not resolved through this method will it go to court. This process is called “claim exhaustion” — you must “exhaust” your remedies before an administrative agency before pursuing your claim in court.

Finding the Right Attorney

As you can see, there are several considerations to evaluate when it comes to workplace discrimination claims. The best opportunity for you to protect your rights and interests is to speak with an attorney with experience in workplace discrimination claims right away. Contact one now for immediate help.