California Workplace Discrimination

California is considered an at-will employment state, which means that an employer or employee can end a working relationship for almost any reason. However, an employer is not allowed to terminate or otherwise negatively impact a worker’s employment because of discrimination. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against as an applicant or employee, you may have a claim against the employer for damages. To learn more, call or contact an experienced employment law attorney in your area today.

Defining Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer engages in any adverse employment action against an applicant or employee based on their actual or perceived belonging to a protected class. There are many different classes and characteristics protected by state and federal law, including the following:

  • Race,
  • Color,
  • National origin,
  • Age,
  • Gender,
  • Religion,
  • Pregnancy status,
  • Military service,
  • Genetic information,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Marital status,
  • Disability status, and more.

It is important to note that an applicant or employee can be discriminated against even if they are not a member of a protected class. All that matters is that an employer believes them to be a member of a protected class and discriminates against them because of it. Damages can still be collected in a discrimination case even if ultimately it is discovered that the applicant or employee does not belong to the protected class that the employer presumed.

What is an Adverse Employment Action?

Any adverse employment action taken against someone in the workplace based on a protected characteristic is considered discrimination, and the term “adverse employment action” can refer to a number of different things that an employer can do to negatively impact an applicant or employee. Some of the most common examples include refusing to hire an applicant, refusing to promote an employee, demotion, poor performance reviews, disciplinary action, refusing to train or provide mentorship opportunities, reassignment to a less desirable location, assignment of an unmanageable workload, assignment of less desirable work hours, suspension, and wrongful termination.

Compensation for a Workplace Discrimination Claim

Damages for a California workplace discrimination claim are based on the type of adverse employment actions taken and the egregiousness of the actions taken by the employer. Workers impacted by discrimination are entitled to back pay as well as interest on those wages. They may also be entitled to reinstatement, pay raises, promotion, and access to additional benefits. An employee can also collect compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress caused by the discriminatory conduct in addition to attorneys’ fees for the case.

In cases of wanton, willful, and egregious discriminatory actions by an employer the court may also award punitive damages in the case. Punitive damages go above compensatory damages for the employee and are meant to punish the employer as well as serve as a deterrent to others who would consider similar discrimination against their applicants or employees.

Call or Contact a Lawyer Today

If you believe that you were discriminated against by an employer in California, talk to an experienced employment law attorney in your area today.