The Employee’s Guide to Sexual Orientation and Gender Discrimination in California

Are you concerned that you or someone you know may have been the victim of sexual orientation or gender discrimination in the workplace? If so, you may have some questions regarding what discrimination is, and your options for resolving it. Consider these frequently asked questions as well as their answers below.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Employment discrimination happens when an employee or job applicant is treated unfavorably because of his or her race, skin color, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or age, and in some states, sexual orientation. It is illegal to discriminate in any facet of employment, so workplace discrimination extends beyond hiring and firing to discrimination that can happen to someone who is currently employed.

What is the Difference Between Harassment and Discrimination?

Harassment is a form of discrimination. As with discrimination, there are different types of harassment, including unwelcome behavior by a co-worker, manager, client, or anyone else in the workplace.

What Kinds of Behaviors Constitute Discrimination?

There are several kinds of workplace discrimination, and several examples. Some are stating or suggesting preferred candidates in a job advertisement, excluding a potential employee during recruitment, denying certain employees compensation or benefits, paying equally-qualified employees in the same position with different salaries, discriminating when assigning disability leave, maternity leave, or retirement options, denying use of company facilities, or discrimination when issuing promotions or lay-offs.

What Should I do if I Have Been Discriminated Against?

If you believe you are experiencing workplace discrimination, you should speak to an attorney. The first thing a lawyer will tell you to do is document everything—all of the emails, all of your performance reviews, everything that you can document should be documented. Look for your company’s anti-discrimination policy (but do not talk to HR to get it.) It should be on the company website, in your employee handbook, or in other HR documents to which you have access. Look it over and see if it addresses the behavior you are seeing. Keep a diary of any incidents of discrimination or harassment. Record the date, approximate time, location, parties involved, witnesses, and details of the improper conduct or speech. Keep any objects or pictures which were posted, left for you, or given to you in the workplace that you believe were discriminatory or harassing.

What if My Employer Retaliates Against Me for Filing a Claim?

Under United States laws, companies are prohibited to subject employees to unfair treatment or blatant discrimination based on these legally protected characteristics. Also, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a person who has filed a complaint about discrimination or participated in an investigation. You should get in touch with an attorney if you experience retaliation at the hands of your employer; you may then have an additional claim.

If you believe you are experiencing workplace discrimination, you may need an attorney to fight for your rights and interests. If that is the case, do not be shy; get in touch with a labor and employment attorney today.